South Korea warns of health hazards of wasp-infused soju

The South Korean government has issued a warning to try and halt a rising trend in the country for mixing wasps into the popular spirit ‘soju’ to create a ‘tonic’ that has perceived health benefits.

Some drinkers believe the mix helps relieve high blood pressure and diabetes, and other types of insects such as centipede and earthworms are often mixed with Soju as well for similar reasons.

“It is no more than a rumor going around ordinary people that wasps could help restore health,” Kim Seung-hwan, a researcher at the Food and Drug Safety Ministry, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

According to the researcher, the practice originated from a sub-culture a long time ago but recently became popular after people began to share recipes and selling the wasp-infused booze online.

Drinking the exotic ‘tonic’ can cause severe allergies that could lead to choking, according to the ministry.

However, drinking insect-infused alcoholic beverages is not uncommon in Asia. Often, poisonous insects and animals such as scorpions, snakes and centipedes have traditionally been used as tonics in Chinese medicinal beverages, following the Chinese medicine principle of ‘fight poison with poison’.

But if handled without care or precision, it can lead to severe allergic reactions.

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