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The heaviest drinking country in the world has come up with a hangover cure and apparently it works

For one South Korean entrepreneur, it only made sense to bottle that formula from his home country and bring it to the hands of hard-working, hard-playing Americans.

Sisun Lee's product, Morning Recovery, is a hangover cure based on some of the many traditional remedies in South Korea's heavy drinking culture.

The idea is to chug a bottle of it after a big night, before you go to bed. Lee claims that you'll wake up without the typical effects expected.

The former Tesla and Uber product manager appears to have hit upon nascent demand for the drink outside of South Korea. Morning Recovery's Indiegogo campaign now stands at 300 percent of its $25,000 goal, less than 24 hours after the page went live.

Morning Recovery's magic ingredient is Dihydromyricetin (DHM), a chemical extracted from a fruit called heotgae in Korean, of the Hovenia dulcis tree, or Japanese raisin tree. 

It also packs milk thistle — said to be beneficial for the liver, which works hard when you drink alcohol — vitamin B complex, prickly pear extract, and taurine.

Unfortunately for Lee and his team at San Francisco's 82 Labs, testing the product meant many nights of heavy drinking.

“It was really all about testing samples on myself, so I literally just got drunk every night and wanted to see if this worked. That's really the only way you do it,” he says. 

Eventually, after realising that he's stumbled upon something huge, Lee left his job at Tesla in June to go full out on launching Morning Recovery.

The drink isn't the first of its kind to hit the western market. Other hangover solutions such as Before Elixir, Resqwater and First Aid Shot Therapy have surfaced in the U.S., but Lee says Morning Recovery differentiates itself by its entire compound of ingredients.

With some of the longest work hours and heaviest drinking habits in the world (not to mention drinking frequently for work), South Koreans have long needed a workaround to get through the week. 

When a hangover is no excuse to stay home, they turn to sukchwi haeso eumryo — hangover remedy drinks, which have understandably become a $120 million industry in South Korea.

Office workers take the small glass bottles, branded Condition, Bacchus or Vita 500, before a night out or the next morning to relieve the pain. Japan has its own version.

People swear by them. People like Kim Duck-hyeon, a 37-year-old office worker in Incheon, west of Seoul, who has been drinking them for 10 years.

“The hangover drinks really work. They help me cut the hangover fast and relieve my headache much better the next day,” he said, while nursing a glass of somaek — a signature Korean concoction of soju and cheap beer — at a work function on a Tuesday night.

“Salespeople who need to drink for work have them every day just to survive!”

So when Lee visited Korea for the first time in his adult life last December and discovered just how intense the drinking culture was, he was blown away by the lightly sweet mystery juice that softened the blow of a heavy night out. 

He returned to the U.S. and ordered some for his friends, who reacted positively too, he says.

“Because Korean drinking culture is so severe and intense, this thing came to market way before everyone else and there's just been a lot of innovation around it,” he says.

“The alcohol market in Korea is about $9 billion and the U.S. alone is 25 times bigger than that, and yet there are no synonymous hangover drinks and beverages in the U.S.”

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