|▲ Hamyang Sturgeon Research Lab, CEO Jo Mi-jung and Director Kim Ki-rion|
Sturgeon is often called a long live fish or emperor fish. It is known that sturgeons can live more than 100 years and the fish is one of the oldest living things on earth with its history goes back to 2.5 billion won years ago. Sturgeon produces itself the substances that prevent aging and activate metabolism.
For this reason, sturgeon has been highly valued among the nobles and riches for luxury food. The caviar (salt-cured roe of sturgeon) especially has been the subject of exploitation and a number of governments put a ban on collecting it. Today, however, sturgeon is being farmed extensively and its processed foods are becoming highly sought-after among those with bad joints.
Kim Ki-rion, Director of Hamyang Sturgeon Research Lab says "Sturgeon is known to be good for bones and has 9 kinds of helpful amino acid and has 70% more protein than beef. Also, it is rich in unsaturated fatty acid and collagen which is good for skin and its gall bladder contains large amount of bile salt, bile pigment and taurine. In a word, it is a swimming nutrient."
Kim worked as a public servant for 30 years and retired in 2014. Thinking he was reaching to retirement, he started to look for something he could do after it and came to know about sturgeon farming.
"Back then, it was an unexplored field and that actually raised my interest with a promising prospect. I wanted to do something others have not done yet" says Kim.
Kim and CEO Jo (Kim's wife) found a right place for sturgeon farming in the current location (Jigok-myeon) and started with 10,000 young sturgeons. The business kept growing and the two farms now have a total of 5,000 sturgeons.
"They were like finger nail size but grew this much big for the last 12 years. The job didn't ask us many things to do but strict management on the quality of the water and supply of oxygen."
Kim and Jo started to harvest what they sowed from late 2015 with high quality caviar. Called as the black diamond of the sea, a 28.35g of jar normally costs 180,000 won (US$ 159).
Apart from caviar, Kim and Jo also produce sturgeon extract themed on angelica root, licorice, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, jujube, small bean and apple. These spinoffs are good for preventing blood-related diseases and dementia according to Kim and Jo.
"Hamyang County is the hub of sturgeon farming in Korea and we have a sense of duty to provide quality caviar and sturgeon related products to the people nationwide."
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