HADONG, South Korea: At this time of year, when frogs begin stirring from their winter sleep and woodpeckers drum for newly active insects, villagers climb the hills around here to collect a treasured elixir - sap from the maple tree known as gorosoe..
"It's important to have the right weather," said Park Jeom Sik, 56, toting plastic tubs and a drill up a moss-covered slope. "The temperature should drop below freezing at night and then rise to a warm, bright, windless day. If it's rainy, windy or cloudy, the trees won't give."
For centuries, southern Korean villagers like Park have been tapping the gorosoe, or "tree good for the bones."
Unlike North Americans who collect maple sap to boil down into syrup, Korean villagers and their growing number of customers prefer the sap itself, which they credit with a wide range of health benefits.
In this they are not alone. Some people in Japan and northern China drink maple sap, and birch sap has its fans in Russia and other parts of northern Europe. But no one surpasses southern Koreans in their enthusiasm for sap, which they can consume in prodigious quantities
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