Saturday, April 2, 2011
Han yak, traditional Korean medicine, is still very popular in Korea, even with he introduction of Western medicine.
In Korean cities, you often find a whole district of Han-eui-sa, Korean medicine Doctors, with small shops for of herbs, twigs, sticks, ginseng, antlers, and assorted dried things. Just about anywhere you go, you can probably find a Korean medicine clinic.
There's a very distinct smell when you're near a traditional medicine shop or clinic. It's a very sharp, warm smell, almost like a date pie but different...
In Daegu, there is Yangnyeonsi, the oldest traditional market in Korea, dating from 1658. It's also still one of the biggest, lined with shops and an old Church that's been turned into a clinic that offers acupuncture on days that end with 1 or 6. An hour-long acupuncture session will usually put you back about 3,000 won (a bit less that $3!).
When I first came to Korea, I'd read in the lonely planet that you can buy shrooms there (with an Rx), so, not knowing any better, I went into a shop and asked for "crazy mushrooms", the best I could do with a couple month's worth of Korean... The man chuckled and said no way, but offered me a $50 bag of dried seahorses. I asked him what it was for, and doing a shoulder check to see if his wife was looking (she was busy looking at the TV), he made a fist, extending his forearm from his crotch, and said, "Good for man!"