Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Kin Cider Zero, Finally

As my readers know, I'm an insulin dependent diabetic (type 1). I go out of my way to specify "insulin dependent" because you just don't know how irritating it is to discuss it and then have someone say "my ______________________ (fill in the blank: mom, dad, uncle, aunt, grandmother, grandfather, etc.) is diabetic."

Okay, yeah, they're diabetic, non-insulin dependent (type 2), but it's a different version of the disease. There are tons of similarities but my version is not because I was not eating healthy and not exercising. It's because early in my life my pancreas simply stopped working.

In Korea there are people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but they're not very vocal about how it impacts their lives or about what products would make their lives a bit easier. In fact, oftentimes they'll go out of their way to not reveal it. That's one big reason I was left face first on the desk during class last term. People thought I was just sleepy or even drunk but not ill. I think that relates back to the fact that being different or having something "wrong" with you is bad here, so people don't discuss it. My nurse asked me if I told people that I was diabetic. I said of course I did. She explained that another patient of hers is a student who doesn't tell people. In fact, because of this, his university made sure that his roommate was also diabetic so they could take care of each other.

What that means is there aren't many sugar-free or diabetic products here. There are basic things like insulin, test strips, insulin pump supplies (although not a broad selection of pumps) and needles, but I've never seen glucose tablets for insulin reactions (hypoglycemia) here. And that's the main reason I've gained about two dress sizes since I've been here. Thank goodness for Harley Pasternak (he has diabetic brothers) - I'm working on it. Basically, I'd rather have higher than average blood sugar than aim for tight control, pass out and have people around me be just clueless. I've managed to get supplies by picking them up when I leave the country, having a friend do it or now I have a mail forwading service who just sends me what I need.

Anyway, I've found sugar-free drinks through certain sources here. But I was in E-mart yesterday and needed to get juice to carry with me in case of an insulin reaction and saw this:
I've always argued that sugar-free products could be introduced here and peddled as diet aids since Koreans are so uncomfortable with making acceptance of disease a priority. In general, Korean women are obsessive about their appearance, which is great for the men here, but that means there is a huge market for products like this. Well, with the release of Coke Zero it seems the Coca-Cola folks have followed up with Kin Cider Zero ("cider" in Korea means it's lemon-lime, like Sprite). Now this is great because the only sugar-free drink here was Coke Light (Diet Coke) which has been replaced by Coke Zero. It still won't replace my special "vendors". They've literally been life savers providing sugar-free drink mixes, sweetners and drinks.

However, it's great to see that we have another addition, and for the benefit of slim Korean women and, more importantly, us diabetics, I hope to see more.

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