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“Ttongsul” is a Korean rice wine mixed with the fermented turd of a human child. It has an alcoholic content of around 9 percent. Little is known about the origins of what is surely one of the world’s most bizarre and gag-inducing medicines. A quick “Ttongsul” Google search will provide you with little more than internet-land hearsay and a flimsy Wikipedia page.
Intrigued, we set out to discover if the rumors were true and to our astonishment found a traditional Korean medicine doctor who claims to be one of the last people who knows how to make “feces wine.” Dr. Lee Chang Soo’s face was tinged with sadness when he told us of his regret that feces is no longer widely utilized in Eastern medicine. The use of human and animal feces for medicinal purposes can be traced back centuries in Korea. Ancient Korean medicine books claim that it heals bad bruising, cuts, broken bones, and is even an effective remedy for epilepsy.
It’s worth pointing out that the average person in modern-day South Korea would have have no clue what Ttongsul is. The drink is believed to have pretty much disappeared by the 1960s as South Korea began its long journey towards First World modernity and Western medicines became more popular.
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