North Koreans Want To Repay Debt In Ginseng

If you were wondering just how bad things are in North Korea, wonder no more:

The Czech Republic has considered allowing North Korea to repay debts with tonnes of aphrodisiac ginseng roots, it has been revealed.

North Korea owes $10m (£6.4m) for trams and heavy machinery it received during eastern Europe’s Soviet era.

The offer of ginseng, said to combat lethargy, arthritis and impotence, was said to have been for 5% of the debt.

But other reports say the Czech Republic is asking for the debt to be repaid in metal instead.

Twenty tonnes of the root was reportedly on offer as a down payment.

That would have been far in excess of the Czech Republic’s annual consumption of ginseng, said to be just under 1.5 tonnes.

What this tells us, of course, is that North Korea is short on cash.

FILED UNDER: World Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Anon says:

    Why doesn’t North Korea simply sell the ginseng to China or South Korea, and generate cash that way?