Let me talk about why and why I decided to help find a buyer for bamboo salt in Germany. I will start with my experience of using bamboo salt to recover from hives.
What is a bamboo salt, and what are its benefits?
(from left) 9 times baked bamboo salt powdered, crystal shaped, and purple crystal shaped.
Bamboo salt is salt that is baked with bamboo, and it originates from Korea. The bamboo salt is prepared likewise (source in Korean) : First, the natural sea salt from Shinan West Coast is sun-dried and stored in a warehouse for three years so that the jailer, a heavy metal component in the natural salt, gradually falls out. Then coarse bamboos from the southern coast or Jiri mountain area will be cut to make it hollow case. Then the sea salt is put into hollow bamboo. The top part will be sealed using natural red clay and the bamboo case is baked, using pine as the fuel. The baking will be done 8 times. For the final 9th baking process, the salt will be baked at 1,600°C. When the salt is cooled down, it's broken into pieces to be like crystals. The inventor of bamboo salt, known as Ilhun Kim, identified that bamboo salt acted at its highest medical efficacy if it was baked at least 9 times. The 9-times-baked bamboo salt was named purple bamboo salt. The sulfur element of the bamboo makes the salt turn purple.
Currently, bamboo salt is one of the most well-known traditional medical treatments, not only in Korea but also in a number of other Asian countries (3,4). Bamboo salt contains 60 essential minerals and micronutrients. In a 2012 research conducted by XIN ZHAO, XIAOXIAO DENG, KUN-YOUNG PARK, LIHUA QIU, and LIANG PANG, the bamboo salt was shown to enhance anti-cancer activities and the anti-metastatic effect in mice. I found the results of clinical trials with bamboo salt in foreign countries.
I fasted for 10 days with Korean bamboo Salt and water.
Yes, I fasted for 10 days with only eating bamboo salt and drinking water. The story goes back to 2011. I finished my three-month long student exchange program in Winchester in U.K. in 2010 and traveled Europe for three weeks with my brother, who had just finished his 22-month long military service. We returned to Seoul on January 15, 2011. After eating wheat-based meals like bread and noodles for three months, I gained weight, and urticaria began to appear shortly after coming back to Korea. (Urticaria, also known as hives, is an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps or plaques on the skin that appear suddenly.) At night, hives were all over my body and they were itchy and stinging, and I couldn't fall asleep. My mom helped me apply aloe on my back and she worried about me a lot. I slept in a nightgown or a pajamas with very little rubber bands on the waist. I had hives when I was 15, and I had a hard time during that time, and they came back to body in seven years.
At that time, there was a book that my mom was reading three books written by Kang Soonnam, a Korean writer who heals people with salt and natural practices. Mom told me about the camp called “Kang Soonnam's 9 nights and 10 days natural healing”. I read the three books written by Kang and went to the camp. I literally went to a local accommodation with about 60 participants, fasting for 9 nights and 10 days, eating only water and bamboo salt. The salt was purple and it was crystal shaped. It was around the first week of February 2011. At that time, they gave me bean paste soup or plum tea in the morning, and I only survived with water and bamboo salt. We had to do a lot of things on top of fasting: the wind bath, enema (An enema involves inserting liquid into the rectum, which is the lower part of the large intestine), Korean beanpaste poultice (doenjangjjimjil, Poultice is - a soft usually heated and sometimes medicated mass spread on cloth and applied to sores or other lesions) and switching cold bath and hot springs for 4 times. Kang Soon-nam, the founder of this camp and the writer of the book, gave lectures every day about 2-3 hours to heal the body by ourselves using the bamboo salt and the practices I mentioned above. At this time, I learned a lot about the benefits of bamboo salt from Kang Soon-nam. I learned that bamboo salt has all the necessary minerals, therefore it's okay and even encouraged to eat salty if you're cooking with a good salt.
I tried to find a photograph or diary at this time, but I couldn't find any. However, at the end of the 9 nights and 10 days of the program, one of the 60 people said that they would like to share their news and notice on an online community. I built an online community called "Kang Sunnam's 10 days fasting" on Korean portal Daum, and invited the partcipants in the camp to the community. Only seven people joined and nobody posted since then. So eventually the community was dormant for nine years. Yesterday it was my first time in nine years to enter the cafe. As you can see, my nickname at the time of the camp was "demonstration girl", because I always sat on the first row to listen to lecture, and volunteered when Kang wanted to show something.
There were several changes after the 9 days and 10 days natural healing camp and fasting: First, I lost about 4 kilograms. Perhaps I lost weight until 51 or 52 kilograms, which was my thinnest time in five years since high school. Second, hives disappeared. Moving around with a lighter, cleaner body was very refreshing. After returning to Seoul, I spent the first three months following the same rules just as I did at the camping. I practiced the wind bath, enema, Korean beanpaste poultice and switching cold bath and hot springs. I also practiced vegetarian diet, not eating any fish nor meat. But gradually as I meal together with other people, I forgot about bamboo salt. It seems that I have been plump again in ten months. I have lived in Ecuador, Israel, U.S. and China since 2012 and have forgotten about the existence of bamboo salt again. Afterwards, I was told that I should avoid sodium in Korea. Korean media and people kept on saying eating salty was bad, naturally I also begin to think that eating salty was not good. I did not add salt when cooking. When I trace my days in Israel, the United States, and China, I had no salt. When I lived in China, my mother gave me Songhwa salt, a very good salt brand in Korea. I later gave it to my friend Gina for Christmas present.
8 years later German company came to Korea to learn about the salt
Then in November 2019, Simon, who works for the Shanghai branch of a German documentary company Comberry, reached out to me. He told me that his team will visit Korea to cover bamboo salt and SAT, and the team need a local coordinator and an interpreter. He asked for my recommendation. As a journalist and a writer, I've only covered the tech side of companies. I was so curious about bamboo salt factory, the documentary making process, and so called "German way of doing things". I told Simon that I want to be the local coordinator and interpreter.
As for bamboo salt episode, I found Insan bamboo salt company, which is known to be the first company to invent the method of making bamboo salt. On November 11th, Paul from comberry team came to Korea. I helped Paul for 4 nights and 5 days from November 11th to 15th to help film bamboo salt factory and Korean SAT.
Next is my Instagram written in Hamyang, a beautiful mountainous city in Gyeongsang Province and also where Insan's headquarter is.
Insan factory's bamboo salt making process:
First they dry a natural sea salt from Shinan West Coast. The sun-dried sea salt is stored in a warehouse for three years so that the jailer, a heavy metal component in the natural salt, gradually falls out. Then they prepare coarse king bamboo from the southern coast or Jiri mountain area. They cut the bamboo into about 30cm long to make a bucket. The sea salt is put into hollow bamboo. The workers make sure the salt in the bamboo is hardened. It is a difficult task to do with a machine, so the person should use hand to put the salt into the basin, and harden the salt.
The entrance of the bamboo will be sealed using natural red clay from the mountain.
3:28 PM We are standing for two hours in the bamboo salt chamber. Documentary film producers stay on the scene much longer than reporters. The reporter can take notes, but the documentary should capture all of this with his eyes and camera. But at the same time, he needs be to fully aware about what he is filming to understand the whole process. And this thinking process turns into a question. His questions revealed a lot of craftsmanship and affection for the workers. Instead of interviewing the president and vice-president, I only connect the microphones to the workers and ask questions such as “Aren't you tired?” “Are you hurt?” “Aren't you bored?” I was thirsty as I continued to translate in the smoke. It is amazing that Comberry has sent only one person - Paul to stay four nights and five days in Korea. He filmed with a go-pro, a drone, and two Canon lenses for this documentary. His stamina was amazing. When I was taking a rest, he came out and flew a drone to capture the factory from above. In his free time, he spoke with his boss Dominique on WeChat. It was an amazing concentration and commitment. #Interview #grammer #documentation #german #feeling #observation #great
Then the workers pile the salt containing bamboos in the iron kiln. Then the salt will be baked for the first time with pine wood fire as the fuel. They only use pine wood for firewood to bake salt. Because it can make a strong heat and also it contains useful components. The iron energy of the kiln can permeate into the bamboo.
When baked, bamboo is burned to ashes, and in the process, useful ingredients of bamboo, including the energy of bamboo seep into salt. The salt turns into a solid pillar.
Once the baking is completed, the salt column is put into the grinder to remove the debris and powdered into salt.
The crushed bamboo salt is once again put into bamboo, sealed the entrance with red clay, piled in an iron kiln, bake it with pine wood fire and crush it again. This process is repeated eight times from beginning to end.
Only then will it enter the last ninth process, it will get into high-temperature process. For the Final 9th baking process, the salt will be baked at 1,600°C.
When the salt is cooled down, it's broken into pieces to be like crystals.
Today is the third day of the German documentary. Finally, I are returning to Seoul after finishing all # shoots at Bamboo Salt factory in Hamyang. Tech reporters always talk about invisible technology, and number of users, but documentary producers always film real things. The experience I had for two nights and three days in Hamyang was so precious. It was the first time that I felt fire in such a huge furnace, touched the chunk of salt, and had been in the # factory for more than seven hours a day. I accompanied Paul to translate all the process of salt making and and interviews with the workers in the factory. My throat was swollen so badly that I couldn't sleep well. This is my first time that I had to interpret professionally. Like the shadows, I must follow German producer to interpret questions, and even their conversations and jokes at mealtimes. It's amazing that I'm the window of communication. I interviewed a visually impaired woman today. With poor eyesight, she added salt into the hollow bamboo with her senses. Her senses are so sensitive that she works so well. She said she's happiest when she was busy and when she has done the most work. It was important for me to tell all these stories in Korean and English twice. The staff gave me jackets, gloves and hot packs because of the cold weather. Starting tomorrow, I will interview and interpret Korean SAT for two days. This is a four-day, five-day documentary interview experience. #Interpretation
My diary -
I visited Hamyang and watched the process of making bamboo salt for full two days, how they bake the bamboo salt nine times. Thanks to President Kim Yoon-se, Managing Director Sang-geun Lee, and Deputy General Manager, we learned a lot about bamboo salt. I fully witnessed the artisan spirit with my own eyes, and I learned how precious this bamboo salt is. When I came back to Seoul, I took purple bamboo salt with me all the time and ate 3 crystals every time I thought of it. I just let it melt under my tongue. I was purely a translator for this project, but now that I'm going to Germany, I thought I can help Insan bamboo salt company to find a German partner. I thought this bamboo salt is the best thing I can recommend to other people.
On second week of January, the documentary was aired on Prosieben Galileo. You need German VPN to watch it. (https://bit.ly/2w6jU6h)
I wrote an e-mail written to the chairman-
“Every time I think of bamboo salt, I eat it, I think of the memories from Hamyang. I learned a lot about bamboo salt. I also read the book you gave me, and I learned more about its importance. I felt that it was superior to any company product I have reported in Korea, so I would like to tell the story of bamboo salt to German people.”
I'm helping Korean bamboo salt company Insan to find a buyer in Germany
Two weeks later, I visited the office of Insan-ga in Insa-dong and met with director Kim Dong-wook. On the first floor of the building you can buy bamboo salt, and soy sauce and drinks made with bamboo salt. On the second floor, there is the Bamboo Salt Museum, which is very useful. Insan-ga was founded in 1987.
I'm currently based in Berlin, helping Korean bamboo salt company Insan (www.insanga.co.kr) to find a partner in Germany. The documentary about Korean salt was broadcasted on Galileo, on Prosieben channel, and received good feedback from German audience. I was the coordinator and translator for the film in Korea. (https://bit.ly/2w6jU6h) Let me know if you know any food companies, restaurants that might be interested.