Go to contents

THE DONG-A ILBO Logo

Nutritional supplements, Wonkiso

Posted August. 17, 2017 07:36,   

Updated August. 17, 2017 08:04

한국어

Korean animation series Black Rubber Shoes sets in the late 1960s and depicts stories revolving around a poor but happy family of an elementary school student Gi-young and her older brother and middle school student, Gi-cheol. On the episode 15 of the third series, Gi-young takes care of her younger sister while waiting for her mother to bring a sponge cake from a wedding ceremony. While waiting for her mother and calming her crying sister, Gi-young discovers a bottle of Wonkiso, nutritional supplements that her mother saves and gives to only her sister occasionally. Gi-young starts to take tablets and finally empties the bottle. Gi-young becomes disappointed as her mother comes back with soap. Her mother finds that Gi-young took all tablets and Gi-young runs away as her mother gets angry.

Koreans in their forties would remember Wonkiso, savory nutritional supplements packed in a bottle with a label of a man lifting weights. After permitted for its sale in 1954, Wonkiso was almost the only vitamin B supplements in Korea in the past. The catchphrase of Wonkiso was “We take Wonkiso from the breastfeeding stage! Encouraging development, enhancing appetite and improving resistance against disease.” Though new supplements, including Beecom-c and Aronamin, hit the market in 1963, Wonkiso remained popular. Back in the days when sweets were rare, many children found Wonkiso as a cookie as Gi-young did.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has abandoned a sale of Wonkiso by Seoul Pharmaceutical Industries as of Wednesday as it cannot find any effectiveness of Wonkiso to deal with a loss of appetite or indigestion. Seoul Pharmaceutical Industries failed to submit support documents as the company is closed temporarily. Production of Wonkiso has been halted for long. However, the ministry’s decision created some unexpected reaction to a different version of Wonkiso that had been introduced in the market by a different manufacturer in 2015. Some confused sellers returned the other version of Wonkiso that has nothing to do with the sales prohibition decision.

In Black Rubber Shoes, the mother gives Wonkiso to the youngest of the family. But in reality, the eldest son or the only son in the family often took the tablet. Mothers hid Wonkiso and gave it to their sons who would be a breadwinner in the future. Kids these days cannot imagine the difficult times in the past when mothers could not give nutritional supplements to all of her children. The writer also recalls my childhood when I took a fistful of Wonkiso tablets that my mother hid on a closet. I disobeyed my mother’s warning to not touch the bottle. My apology finally goes to my mother.