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On the Protective Value of Kimchi

Excerpt from Korea: The First War We Lost, by Bevin Alexander, page 15

Aside from the war itself, there were two aspects of Korea, both olfactory, which kept the country from seeming to be an Eden, at least to Americans and Europeans. One was the ubiquitous buffalo-pulled “honey wagon,” in which the frugal peasants collected their own excrement for spreading on their fields, and which possessed a smell so deep, pungent and penetrating that it could literally stupefy a Westerner. The other was the national vegetable dish of the Koreans, a fermented collection of cabbage, garlic, peppers, turnips and other matter known as kimchi, which when encountered, for example, on the breath of a lovely Korean girl, generally had so devastating an effect on a Western soldier that his interest in her vanished and his libido sank without a trace. Korean mothers doubtless could thank kimchi for preserving the virtue of many of their daughters in a land overrun by foreign soldiers.

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