Baby herbal soup: the Internet for sick fc*ks

[EM’s long-promised update to this post. I did have some correspondence from people allegedly associated with Seoul Times (see below), but it was inconsequential and I’d forgotten about my promise to publish any reply. So if that person, or anyone else from ST wants to respond, send something.

What drew me back here today, April Fool’s Day in fact [01-April-2011] was an incoming link to this post from To find another paths.  The post is in Indonesian, but I have googletranslated it and posted that here.

It is amazing how this nasty viral hoax and blood libel continues to spread. I thank all those who link to Ethical Martini’s ongoing attempt to destroy this disease.

EM, Auckland 1 April 2011]

Ok, so I thought we’d nailed this long ago – BABY HERBAL SOUP IS A VIRAL INTERNET HOAX.

I’ve just come across another sick chatroom thread about the perennial ‘baby herbal soup’ hoax photographs that continue to circulate and to get more and more graphic. This is a new thread, it only went up on 20 October 2009.

That this happens is not really surprising, but the ignorant and racist comments that these posts generate is the really shocking aspect of this story.


The Furaffinity site - click to check [PGA]

The Furaffinity site - click to check PGA warning

This site claims to have the story from an online news source The Seoul Times and sure enough, the story is there, complete with all the nasty fake photos.


click to read Seoul Times 'baby herbal soup' story PGA

click to read Seoul Times 'baby herbal soup' story PGA

It’s one thing for this viral meme to circulate in chatrooms where ignorance and prejudice seem to rule, but for a news site to run it as a straight news piece is pretty disgusting.

It’s another argument in favour of having some form of trained cadre who can verify and check and against the idea that somehow the “bottom up” Internet is going to improve on the mainstream media. It purports to be a letter to the editor and it’s dated 30 September 2008, so now it’s recirculating thanks to Fur Affinity.

I have contacted the Seoul Times editor asking her/him to remove this piece, or at least to acknowledge that it is more than likely a hoax.

I encourage you to do the same.

You can simply copy and paste this text into your email browser. The address is

Dear editor, I was shocked to see that you are running the Chinese baby soup story as if it were real and verified.
This is an internet hoax and you have been fooled into running this story which feeds prejudice and racism against Chinese people.
You can see what I mean here.
I urge you to take this story down immediately and check for yourself that it is indeed a cruel and racist hoax.
I would appreciate it if you reply to this letter so that I know you take your journalistic responsibility seriously
I will post any responses from the editor

29 Responses to Baby herbal soup: the Internet for sick fc*ks

  1. […] most recent update – 21 October 2009 – is here Baby herbal soup: the Internet for sick fc*ks, this time the email hoax has been published on a (semi)reputable news site, The Seoul […]

  2. Rowan says:

    I’m afraid you are mistaken-this is not a hoax. It is verified. It is true. They do eat babies. It is rather expensive and has been SEEN happening.

    EM Comment:
    Rowan, I have been involved in journalism and journalism education for 30 years. This story has NEVER appeared in any reputable news source during that time, or before.
    Trust me, I’m a journalist and I can tell you ABSOLUTELY that if there was even the remotest chance that this bullshit was true, there would be an international scandal and it would be on the front page of every newspaper and lead every broadcast news bulletin until it was stamped out.
    Go to Wikipedia and read the entries on this urban myth and on blood libel. You do know what evidence is don’t you? Follow the links from there to finally satisfy yourself.
    This is a classic and very nasty urban myth – it has all the attributes, bad spelling in the email, plausible but unverified “accounts” of eyewitnesses, etc.
    Why do you think that Amnesty International, Save the Children fund etc, etc have never called for a campaign to stop baby eating?


  3. Don’t bother trying to leave a comment saying or implying that this horror story might be true. It will be deleted immediately and the commenter blocked.

  4. JudgeX says:

    “If you disagree with me I will delete what you say and block you from my blog.” = Absolute spinelessness.

    You just want to plug your ears and scream falsehoods that you really wish to hold true? Go ahead.

    I feel sorry for you in your ignorance, really, I do. And regarding this story, I really wish you could prove your point because I would sleep more easily myself knowing that people don’t eat babies…

    However, the proof just isn’t there. In fact, there’s a lot of proof that they DO eat babies.

    EM’s comments:
    Idiot; go eat your own ass you moron. I have left you enough of a trail to lead you to the truth but you must be some sort of dedicated town fool to keep pursuing this here.
    Go away.
    You will not be commenting here anymore, trust me on that.

  5. Jimbob says:

    The trail you have left includes definitions for blood libel, and unsubstantiated claims.

    Because blood libel exists does not make the possibility of humans eating babies an impossibility.

    If you really wish to represent journalism, as you have claimed to have been a journalist for so long, you are doing an absolutely terrible job.

    I’m not a journalist at all, but I can clearly see that your raging anger and bad attitude guide your article and responses far more than logic and a genuine seeking of truth.

    You are claiming things as fact that you DO NOT KNOW.
    That’s bad, and you should stop it.

    “Blood libel exists thus I am correct in that the photos of babies being prepared as food are blood libel” is not sound logic or argument.

    “Zhu Yu was claimed to have faked his performance piece ‘eating people’ by several people, and, even though none of those people definitively claim it as falsehood, I believe them really hard, so babies are not ever prepared as food.” Also, a futile and failing argument.

    “You are an idiot if you believe this” is also invalid.

    I visited all the links you posted. While I can say that you do posit a solid case for lending SOME MEASURE of doubt to the issue, absolute disproof is a very long shot away.

    EM comment
    At least I don’t make up quotes and stick words in people’s mouths like you have.
    You’re bullshit commitment to “truth” is some kind of blind or camoflage.
    My argument is that spreading this false rumour on the net – and then numbnucks like you acting like I’m somehow censoring truth for condemning the obvious racism – is an indication that there are lots of gullible people out there and fools like you who wish to use sophistry and wankerism to defend them.
    Go away, yes I’m angry. Angry that dribblejaws like you think that there is actually anything to debate here.
    I repeat: “Go away”, let me add for good measure: “Don’t come back.”

  6. OhandBTW says:

    You’re a sad little person. Journalist for 30 years and you still act and argue like a 16 year old.

    You’ve no dignity at all.

    Have fun moderating my comments. I understand you’re too weak to actually allow free speech on your blog. Spreading lies and half-truths is bad.

    EM comment
    And your point is?

  7. […] Are we redundant? Should we retreat and leave the web to dribblejaws who find it a convenient medium to feed their conspiracy theories and ugly prejudice? […]

  8. Geez, someone just started a thread on it at Catholic Answers ( – I tried to refute it (I’m “theistgal” there) but obviously there are some people who just WANT to believe crazy stuff like that.

  9. Bunnyhugs says:

    No doubt the photos are a hoax.

    I do believe though that there is something to these stories. An old acquaintance of mine from Taiwan told me of having eaten herbal soup prepared from human fetus in pre-Communist Shanghai. She was sick as a young woman, came from a wealthy family, and said her parents made her eat this soup for health reasons. It was an odd story, but the rest of her stories about old Shanghai seemed believable enough.

    If I were to decide the old lady was lying (and perhaps I believe her), this still tells me that these urban legends are of Chinese origin.

    Interestingly, the granddaughter of the old woman confided in me that if she believed such a soup would improve her health, and if she could be sure nobody would find out about her eating it, she would happily eat it herself. Sick? I don’t know. Maybe just honest.

  10. Gnayler says:

    Suitcases packed with 28 Chinese babies for sale

    March 24 2003

    Police in south-western China discovered 28 baby girls hidden in nylon suitcases on a long-distance bus, apparently destined to be sold, police and a state-run newspaper said.

    One of the babies had died by the time police, acting on a tip-off, found them last week when the bus was stopped at a motorway toll gate in Bingyang, Guangxi province, the Beijing News said.

    Police at the Bingyang police station said more than 20 suspects, some among the bus passengers, had been arrested. The babies ranged in age from a few days to about three months.

    “They had been on the bus for four or five hours before they were found,” an officer said.

    Some of the infants were two or three to a suitcase, which were stacked on the luggage rack, the back row of seats and along the sides of the bus.

    The babies seemed to have been drugged to keep them from crying. Some were starting to turn purple as temperatures had dropped on the bus during the night.

    Police said they did not know where the babies came from or where they were headed. The bus was travelling from Yulin city in poverty-stricken Guangxi province to central China’s similarly poor Anhui province.

    The 27 surviving babies, who were in stable condition, were being cared for at the Minorities Weisheng School in nearby Nanlin district, police said.

    Most of those arrested were middle-aged women from Bingyang.

    “They probably wanted to make some money. They might have been headed for Guangdong,” a police spokesman said.

    Source: AFP

  11. Not sure why Naylor sent this link, it’s from March 2003, and so verifying (or disproving) the story is not really feasible.
    However, I am sceptical enough to suggest that just because it was run in the Sydney Morning Herald, and on the BBC, does not prove the veracity.
    This has all the hallmarks of an urban legend. Note it was “last week”, the source is “Beijing News”, no one is quoted by name and it has just enough plausability to be possibly true.
    But the sheer number 28 babies in suitcases on one bus travelling from a dirt poor province, etc.

  12. A Chinese says:

    I saw those pictures in Chinese BBS in 2003. The story posted (linked) by Naylor is true. It’s a famous crime case in China. You can find in Chinese new website.
    But those bodies in the soup are from hospital – from women’s miscarriages. The Chinese website said the customers of those soup are Taiwanese investors in Guangdong. They don’t think it’s a sin as they think miscarried baby is not human being, but a kind of Chinese medicine.

  13. I am not convinced. As I pointed out, placement of story in newspaper, is not evidence it’s true.
    However, this link claims Shanghai Daily as source on baby kidnap ring.
    As for baby soup, read back:
    first post

  14. Loltun says:

    In regards to the article on The Seoul Times website:
    Chinese Eat Baby Soup for Sex

    One thing to note is that this is not actually an article that was investigated and reported on by The Seoul Times.

    It is a “Letter To The Editor”

  15. […] have repeatedly pointed out that this is a hoax revolving around a confronting and controversial performance art […]

  16. litlle man says:

    I love how you speak in such a certian manor yet have no proof of it being fake. Its real. The world is fuckedup.Get over it

    [EM, Little man, you really are. The artist who held the installation is well documented. There is your proof. On the other hand, dribblejaws like you who believe this is true have nothing to go on except the self-justifying excreta of your equally challenged peers.
    Don’t come back.]

  17. pandora says:

    The comment onslaught above makes me ponder why it is acceptance and not skepticism that some individuals cling desperately to. While nothing is truly ever proven, correlations and corresponding facts can bring any logical reasoning person to their own conclusions. It shouldn’t simply be spoon fed.

    Either way, thank you for clarifying and providing enough citable evidence and resources that can cast enough doubt on the matter.

  18. Mark says:

    The 2003 story was definately run in China, I was living in Beijing at the time and remember the story vividly, as for its authenticity I really have no reason to disbelieve it.

  19. Valorie says:

    When I read that fake article I just about cried. But I am not one of those morons that believe everything I get via e-mail and read on web pages.
    I do like what you have written because it gives me more peace of mind that the baby eating isn’t really going on. Before I even landed on your page I read on several other sites about the hoax starting from the (sickening) artistic photos from Zhu Yu (or whatever his name is).
    I agree with what you said too that this kind of information that people so readily believe just adds fire to the flame of racism. The comments from people on the sites bowing to the hoax are freakishly ignorant and make me more leery of the human race.
    But then again, the people that believe this hoax is true (without it being on the front page of newspapers worldwide and one the news) are the same ones that believe the photos of the “giants” that were excavated in Saudi Arabia and pretty much every other hoax debunked on

  20. this story was in the Taipei Times in 2001 – just after this hoax was first disseminated.

    Baby-eating photos are part of Chinese artist’s performance

    Friday, Mar 23, 2001, Page 2
    Following the publication of an article in a Malaysian weekly tabloid that alleged a Taiwanese restaurant served the meat of human infants, the Taiwan government has taken steps to ensure the publisher prints a retraction.

    Yuan Kai-sheng (袁凱聲), a Government Information Office (GIO) official, said the government had filed a complaint with the Perdana newspaper and requested that a correction be published. He said the tabloid had apologized to the GIO for publishing the story.

    The offending article was first made public on Wednesday by People First Party Legislator Chin Huei-chu (秦慧珠).

    The pictures were in fact part of a performance by Shanghai-based artist Zhu Yu (朱昱), entitled Man-eater (食人).

    However, Perdana’s news story claimed that the photos were of a Taiwanese restaurant in which human fetuses are served to customers.

    Zhu has created a series of art performances entitled Infatuation on Injures (對傷害的迷戀) — among them are the works he named Man-eater and Canned human brains (罐裝腦漿).

    The Chinese-language press quoted Zhu as saying during an interview on Wednesday that he intended to discuss life and death through his works.

    By eating six-month-old human fetuses obtained from abortions, he posed a challenge to traditional ethics, he maintained to the press.

    Born in 1970, Zhu said that he wanted to know if we could change our human culture in which we fear death and pursue eternal life.

    To create Man-eater, he said he cooked the corpses of babies that had been stolen from a medical school.

    Zhu admitted that the meat obtained from the bodies tasted bad, and said he had vomited several times while eating it. However, he said, he had to do so “for art’s sake.”

    Though his works have sparked criticism, Zhu has achieved fame within China’s avant-garde art circles.

    In another work, Canned human brains, Zhu immersed human brains in glass jars, which also caused a stir.

    This story has been viewed 157586 times.

  21. Petra says:

    Herbal soup? Sacrilege! I prefer my babies more simply done – lightly roasted with a bit of salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

  22. mysterious rebel says:

    Is it true that they eat fetus for the purpose of health and beauty?
    i wish this is only a bad joke..

    I need your answers..please.. i want the truth
    [did you read my posts Mysterious Rebel? It’s a hoax, not a joke, it’s cruel and racist torture of an entire county.]

  23. RN says:

    I am Chinese and I can 100% verifiy the so-called baby soup is 100% true – I have seen it, gone with friend who eat it and to them it is not regarded as a big deal or even a taboo, they don’t openly discuss it because they know they can’t generate too much publicity around the topic; “look what the world is trying to stop Japanese from eating whales, shhhhhh…plus it makes Chinese people look evil”

    When I was in China, I also saw a soup named “Dragon-Tiger-Phoenix” and it is an expensive herbal soup made with a Snake (Dragon), a Cat (Tiger) and a Chicken (Phoenix), but it didn’t faze me anymore after seeing human fetus getting consumed.

    By the way, the “Eating People” art deliverd by artist Zhu Yu and the real fetus soup are two separate things! Yes, the artist made a couple of exhibitions of him devouring a “model” baby but this artist is NOT to take away the truth behind fetus soup, don’t confuse the two! To even diminish the FACT by Zhu’s art is like telling yourself that Shrunken Heads were a hoax just because replicas of shrunken heads were made.

    [EM: RN, I have published your comment on this topic as a kindness. I don’t usually. There is absolutely no evidence that has any credibility showing that ‘BHS’ is real. The only images of this so-called cultural practice are Zhu’s art.
    The Internet hoax only started after Zhu’s performance piece was delivered. There have been no prosecutions for this act.
    I cannot disprove your claim that a friend has eaten this soup, but I regard it as very, very, very doubtful.
    I will not be publishing any more such comments, back to my usual practice.]

  24. Mike Atkins says:

    Just thought you should know: the Seoul Times article is back. A few friends posted it to Facebook. This time the date says “Saturday, March 3, 2012,” but it’s still the same article that you and many others linked to back in 2009, and 2010.

    In fact clicking those links takes you to the version with today’s date on it.

    I’ll be using that form letter of yours, thank you.

  25. Dani says:

    I’m afraid THIS IS TRUE. I have many friends who have lived in China FOR MANY YEARS. Just because it’s not covered by mainstream media doesn’t necessarily mean It’s false. A friend of mine lived in China for seven years and she lived in the towns and villages where authorities don’t even go. They eat baby fetuses and the male fetuses fetch far more money than the female fetuses. It is a taboo and outlawed but the people still practice it. Mostly wealthy Chinese families that can afford human fetuses. In China there are hospitals attached to prisons where prisoners organs are harvested for the wealthy. Fetuses can also be directly bought from a hospital under a code name. Please don’t listen to this false article as it only allows us human beings from actually knowing the truth. I didn’t know about this through media coverage, I’ve known about this from real people who have been to China and seen it happen.

    [EM comment: Dani, I normally just block this kind of stuff, but then I get accused of censorship.
    Your story doesn’t make sense – how many rich people live in poor rural areas where the authorities don’t even go? None, so that blows one of your theories out of the water. Two, how come it’s always ‘friends’ that say they’ve seen this or heard about it.
    There is no reputable evidence, such crimes would not go uncovered for so long.
    Please, if you are coming here to comment and say that this awful libel is true then don’t bother. I will not be posting any more comments like this one from Dani.

  26. Queteimporta says:

    You are such a Communist liar
    [EM: a short, sharp and clearly well-informed comment, thanks, I take it as a compliment coming from you.]

  27. Christina says:

    I seldom write responses, however after browsing through a
    few of the comments here Baby herbal soup: the Internet for sick fc*ks | Ethical
    Martini. I do have a couple of questions for you if it’s okay. Is it simply me or do a few of the comments look like they are written by brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are writing at other social sites, I would like to follow everything fresh you have to post. Would you make a list of every one of your social sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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