[Eye Plus] Harvest season comes for ginseng

By Won Ho-jung
  • Published : Sept 15, 2017 - 15:47
  • Updated : Sept 15, 2017 - 15:47
Early Tuesday morning, about 30 villagers gathered at a field in Asan, South Chungcheong Province, to begin the most important day of the year.

The field has been contracted by the Korea Ginseng Corporation to grow prized six-year ginseng roots. After two years of nourishing the soil and six years of growth, the roots are finally ready to be unearthed.

Tractors begin to turn the soil, bringing the golden-brown roots to the surface. The villagers begin dusting the soil off the roots and placing them into boxes to be delivered to the KGC plant.

About 200 boxes were packed from the Asan field that day and moved to KGC’s plant in nearby Buyeo. Here, automated machines group the roots by size, before they go into high pressure and ultrasonic washers.

The washed roots pass by a conveyor belt lined with plant workers who categorize them by quality, then placed them into a steamer. The steaming process turns the roots into red ginseng, or hongsam.

The hongsam is then processed into extracts, pills, and other products to be sold in Korea and around the world.

Red ginseng has been certified by the Food and Drug Safety Ministry as boosting the immune system, supporting blood circulation, acting with antioxidant properties, helping recovery from fatigue, supporting memory function, and improve female health in menopause.

Each year, roughly 9,000 tons of ginseng are harvested from 2,000 fields around nationwide. The harvest season continues through to November. 

Written by Won Ho-jung (
Photographed by Park Hyun-koo (