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article imageNorth Korea offers ginseng to Czechs to pay $10 million debt

By Kim I. Hartman     Aug 12, 2010 in World
Prague - North Korea has offered a surprising alternative to repaying the $10 million in debt owed to the Czech government - they want to pay in ginseng. Czech officials and world leaders are questioning how North Korea can afford nuclear missiles if they're poor.
The Czech Finance Ministry said it has been negotiating ways for the impoverished Asian nation to pay back $9.8 million of debt owed since the late 1980s, when Czechoslovakia was part of the communist bloc.
During this period, Czechoslovakia delivered to its North Korean ally trams, trucks and various machines.
North Korea proposed during talks in July that the Czechs forgive 95 percent of the debt, but Czech officials said that was unacceptable when North Korea is spending millions of dollars to build and test nuclear weapons. North Korea has test-fired many of these long-range missile's built to strike targets as far away as the United States, the AP reports.
The Czechs have suggested that the North Koreans pay in goods, and North Korea proposed sending medical products made of ginseng. The ginseng root is touted as a cure-all for everything from headaches to sexual dysfunction.
Ginseng has been used widely for thousands of years for the treatment and prevention of various diseases. It's popular as a tonic, and as a health food which is capable of restoring disordered physiological functions and promoting resistance to various external stimuli and which does not produce side effects.
Other benefits purported to be obtained from ginseng include: it promotes metabolism and improves physiological activity, stress reduction, it is said to improve the eyesight and the functions of the digestive organs, ginseng reportedly has cured diabetes, improves blood circulation, enhances cognitive abilities and delays aging.
Because of its remarkable medicinal effect, ginseng has become known as a miraculous herb. It has been called the spirit of the land and has also been referred to as a blood root. But some medical experts say "there's no convincing evidence to support the use of ginseng."
The Czech ministry said it has not received an official offer yet.
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