tongsul is a medicinal Korean rice wine that is made with a special ingredient — the fermented feces of a human child. It has an alcohol content of approximately nine percent.
The gag-inducing wine is not widely consumed in South Korea anymore. Researchers believe it to have died out almost entirely in the 1960s. Traditional doctors and their patients thought the drink could mend broken bones, make bruises and cuts disappear, or even cure epilepsy.
A reporter from VICE tracked down a traditional Korean doctor — Dr. Lee Chang Soo. Soo claims he is one of the last set of people with the know-how to make the drink, which he also called feces wine.
The doctor reported the medicinal use of poop to be centuries old. During those times, ancient Koreans believed it could cure several problems.
They also used animal feces in medicine — from using chicken droppings to treat stomach aches and bats’ to treat alcoholism. That said, these ingredients are no longer used commonly in Eastern medicine. Dr. Soo expressed his dismay that human feces is no longer a traditional medicine as well.
The rice wine is only nine percent alcoholic but contains feces from children around six years of age. Dr. Soo claims that the feces do not smell and are considered “pure.”
He also explained that the wine prevents pain. He added that whatever bad fall a person has might lead to 20 days of hospitalization, but the wine can heal the pain in half the time.
How to make Rice Wine with Special Ingredient Poop
If you were to make the rice wine, you’d need rapidly fermenting water and children’s feces. Here’s how to make it — mix the fermenting water with the children’s feces.
After a day, mix yeast and boiled rice in a pot.
Afterwards, add the fermented water containing the special feces with its healing properties.
As you might expect, the fermented water has a stronger odor that seems off-putting to untrained nostrils. Experts use normal rice to improve the taste and non-glutinous rice to aid fermentation — because it has lots of protein.
Keep the mixture between 30 to 37 degrees Celsius for a week and then strain it. Afterwards, it is ready to drink.
Ms. Yuka Uchida chose to brave the concoction and give it a go, but not before Dr. Soo warned the VICE journalist that the wine “might taste a little sour.” When she struggled with drinking it, the good doctor said that the problem was her psyche. Uchida reported:
“IT TASTES LIKE RICE WINE, BUT WHEN I BREATHE OUT OF MY NOSE, IT SMELLS LIKE POO.”Yuka Uchida
Today, most South Koreans do not even know about Ttongsul — because it all but died out in the ’60s. But there are a few traditional doctors that still use this unconventional drink as a remedy.