Dried frogs cure every ailment? (June 2000)
(Please read this before you copy our photos or text.)

When you need a doctor in Korea, you'll find that they're pretty much up to date with Western medical standards. (Korea's lifespan is very similar to the US's.) Most of the cost will be covered by Korea's single payer national health care plan. Just make sure you take along a good interpreter.

If you'd like to try an alternative, you'll find that Chinese medicine is very popular in Korea. Ideas that most American doctors would (and do) call quackery are part of the mainstream here.

It 's not clear to me how well regulated this business is. Margaret shot the photo above at the 2000 Kangnung Tano Festival (Gangneung Dano), which is (or at least was then) part history, part culture, and part bazaar. This vendor had an exhibit of what I would call quasi-Chinese medicine, claiming that his dried frogs could cure pretty much any skin problem you might have.

Does it work? I have no idea. But it does point up one of the problems of Chinese medicine. Its tonics come from herbs and animals. Some of them (once you know a few Korean men, I'll bet you'll be able to guess which ones) are so popular that the plants and critters that go into them are getting close to extinction.

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