Czech debt could be 'repaid with ginseng root'

  • 11 August 2010
  • From the section Europe
Ginseng (file photo)
Image caption Adherents claim Ginseng has beneficial properties for stamina and libido

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.

'Good business'

"At a working meeting we asked them for some goods and one of the options was ginseng imports," Deputy Finance Minister Thomas Zidek told news agency Agence France-Presse.

A story in the Czech media about the possibility of a deal had led to enquiries from dealers.

"It would be good business for the state," Mr Zidek said.

But other reports said the eastern European country had opted instead to ask for metal imports.

"We have been trying to convince them to send, for instance, a shipment of zinc," Mr Zidek told a local newspaper.

Ginseng is also said to combat senility.

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