The83k, in the ROK: Kim Jong-Il and Ginseng Soju


This bottle came from North Korea. The liquor in it originally was drunk long ago by my uncle and his friends. The soju in it in this picture was infused with wild ginseng also brought over from Jong-Il-Bob CrazyPants Happy Fun Land. Farmed ginseng is pungent and pricey, but the wild stuff is much more mellow-tasting, takes forever to grow, and even more expensive. The few South Korean factories allowed to do business across the 38th parallel is a small window of commerce into North Korea, and it is through this the bottle and the ginseng flowed though. The booze was drunk, the bottle washed, and then filled with high-end soju and a small portion of the wild stuff. It was served as a palate cleanser of sorts between the courses of scotch Uncle Seung was obliterating our jet lag with, and it was heady with notes of fresh ginger and anise. It felt like a warning to my brain, my liver, my gut, and my heart – the good times to be had on this trip will be unrecognizable to you. Keep alert. Be aware of wonder. And keep your hand underneath your glass as your relatives pour you another portion of otherworldly homemade booze, you uncouth lightweight.



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