North Korea develops mushroom drink to boost athletic prowess
North Korean scientists have developed a sports drink made from mushrooms to enhance athletic prowess, according to state media.
In a report detailing "new inventions" in the secretive state, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said researchers at the Microbiological Research Institute of the State Academy of Sciences had developed a "very effective" mushroom drink to help athletes recover from exertion.
"They succeeded in finding the way to cultivate mushroom fungus and made a functional drink," KCNA reported. "This natural drink is very effective in enhancing physical ability of sportspersons and recovering from their fatigues."
The report does not explain how the drink's health benefits work, when it will be made widely available or how it tastes.
North Korea recently announced the opening of a Central Mushroom Research Institute in Pyongyang. A KCNA report said the centre had been built "according to the noble intention of [the country's leader] Kim Jong-un making a new history of industrialisation of mushroom growing" and that it had a "very important duty" to help turn the "DPRK into a huge producer of mushroom".
The report said there was now a "brisk drive for mushroom production" across North Korea, and that the efforts of the institute were anticipated to bring "substantial benefits to the people".
North Korea has struggled with food production since the famine of the 1990s, which is believed to have killed one million people. Outdated farming practices, mismanagement, lack of fertilisers and extreme weather have all been blamed for poor food production. Though the situation is believed to be steadily improving, chronic levels of infant malnutrition persist, according to the UN.
Mushrooms have featured in North Korean propaganda since the 1960s.
KCNA has previously emphasised to the public that both North Korea's founding father, Kim Il-sung, and his son, Kim Jong-il, "worked heart and soul to provide the people with tasty nutritious mushroom".