The Portuguese island of Madeira is located about 520 km from the African continent and about 1,000 km from Portugal. This is an island that Prince Henry of Portugal occupied before embarking on his full-scale Age of Exploration.
There are two things that Madeira Islanders are proud of. First of all, world-famous soccer hero Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo’s hometown is Madeira. The people of Madeira are so proud of Ronaldo that the name of the airport here is ‘Aeroporto Internacional da Madeira Cristiano Ronaldo ’ .
Another thing is wine. Madeira wine is so famous that it was used not only as a toast drink by the founding fathers of the United States after reading the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, but also as a celebratory drink at the inauguration of George Washington, the first president.
However, Madeira wine has a sad history hidden behind it. Originally, the first crop planted by Portugal after occupying Madeira was sugarcane. Sugarcane grown by Muslims was brought from the islands of the Mediterranean and planted. On the island of Madeira, Portugal set the example for colonial management and exploitation that it would commit in its American colonies. Portugal brought black slaves from Africa to grow sugarcane and produce sugar. This was the first time that the combination of ‘plantation agriculture + black slaves’ was tested.
Later, after the center of the sugar cane industry moved to the New World, grapes were planted in Madeira’s sugar cane fields, and wine was made from the grapes produced there. At first, there was nothing special about Madeira wine. Moreover, the wine even went bad during transportation to the continent. To prevent this, fortified wine was created by adding alcohol made from sugar cane to the wine. In this way, Madeira wine was born, with a higher alcohol content and unique flavor than wines produced on the European continent. So, Madeira and wine hide the sad history of Madeira as a land of slave labor and sugarcane cultivation. Portuguese historian Alberto Vieira evaluated Madeira as “a place where the ugly system reared its head socially, politically, and economically.” It was because of sugar cane and sugar.
The sweetest substance created by humans in the most vicious way. It’s sugar. To obtain pure white sugar, Europeans created colonies, enslaved black people, and forced slaves to work. With the sugar they obtained, they enjoyed black tea with plenty of sugar and made sweet cakes.
The most heartbreaking story hidden in sweetness, today is the story of sugar.
Human preference for sweet taste is a survival instinctAs the saying goes, ‘If it’s sweet, you swallow it, if it’s bitter, you spit it out,’ humans instinctively like ‘sweet taste.’ Because it is the taste felt from glucose, which is used first as an energy source, liking sweet taste is a survival instinct. In particular, human ancestors who lived as gatherers learned that bitter tastes are poison and sweet tastes are edible through the experience of eating fruits or berries from trees, so a preference for sweet tastes was imprinted in their DNA . Scientifically, it has been confirmed that when people eat sweets, their brain reacts similarly to when they take morphine.
I like the sweet taste because it reminds me of my mother’s scent. Since the lactose contained in breast milk gives it a sweet taste, the first taste and smell that babies encounter when they are born is sweet. Some argue that the reason newborn babies like sweet things so much is because they experience sweet tastes from the time they are in the womb.
Although the preference for sweet tastes is an instinct, differences in preference exist depending on the culture. Depending on the ecological environment and the resulting differences in food culture, the tendency to like sweet tastes may become stronger or weaker.
The problem is that sweetness is difficult to obtain from nature. Honey is a representative source of sweetness in nature. However, because the amount was absolutely insufficient, those in power had priority over honey in any culture.
Discovering a way to obtain ‘sugar’ from sugar cane was a blessing to mankind. Sugarcane is known to have been first cultivated in New Guinea around 3000 BC. Sugarcane was brought to India and Islamic regions along the sea route, and sugar manufacturing methods were also developed in the process.
In Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language, the word for ‘a piece of sugar’ was ‘khanda ‘ , which was passed down to the English-speaking world and became candy . In Islamic areas, the sweet-tasting medicine introduced from India was called ‘ sharkara ‘, which is the origin of the word ‘ sugar ‘.
As the saying goes, before modern times, sugar was so rare that people recognized it as ‘medicine.’ Until the 16th century, the European medical community believed that sugar had more than 10 benefits, including treating tuberculosis.
Because sugar was believed to contain mystical powers, ornaments made of sugar were sometimes used in ceremonies of the royal family or noble families. The reason wedding cakes are used at weddings today is because this tradition has continued.
Until the Age of Exploration, the sugar industry was almost monopolized by Islamic forces. Islamic forces cultivated sugar cane and developed sugar manufacturing methods in Egypt and the Mediterranean islands. In particular, sugar manufacturing was developed in Egypt, which was famous for mixing sugar cane juice with milk and boiling it again to obtain the ‘whitest and cleanest’ sugar.
It is known that China also learned sugar manufacturing methods from Egypt. Marco Polo wrote in his Travels to the East, “There were several Egyptians at the khan’s court, and they explained to him how to make the dazzling white sugar that many people desired.”
Where there were sugarcane there were slavesThere were slaves in European society even before black Africans were exploited as slaves. However, it was completely different from the ‘slavery’ that existed in the United States. Mainly, Muslim soldiers and Africans captured during the Crusades were treated as ‘slaves’ instead of ‘servants.’ Although it was not a benevolent system, they were given some freedom and rights.
The brutal system of black slavery that we remember began with sugar cane plantations. Before plantation farming began in the Americas, Portugal was the first to try this method on islands around the Atlantic Ocean. The combination of black slaves and plantations attempted in Ronaldo’s hometown of Madeira, mentioned above, took place more fully than on the islands of Sao Tome and Principe in the African Gulf of Guinea. In particular, since it was an area at high risk of tropical infectious diseases, the only option was to use black labor.
In the 16th century, Sao Tome Island prospered to the extent that one-third of its surface was covered with sugar cane. The dense forest was completely cut down by the furnace of the sugar mill. A small group of Europeans chained up thousands of black slaves and treated them cruelly. At this time, Sao Tome Island was the prototype of an exploitative country.
As harsh exploitation continued, resistance continued. When the opportunity arose, black people escaped, and the fugitives formed armed groups and fought in the woods. In the 1595 revolt, as many as 5,000 slaves destroyed 30 sugar cane mills.
Afterwards, the center of sugarcane cultivation moved to the islands of the Caribbean via Brazil. The characteristics of the crop called sugarcane played a big role in this. Because sugarcane is a plant that rapidly deprives the land of its productive capacity, it always had to move in search of new land.
There were two problems with the process of refining sugar from sugar cane. One was a question of time and the other was a question of fire. When sugar cane is cut down, the sweet cane stalk quickly turns into hard wood. Therefore, it was necessary to put the sorghum in a container and boil it within 24 hours if possible. This is why there is even a refining facility next to the sugar cane plantation.
To solve this problem, white plantation owners built a refinery right next to the sugar cane fields and forcibly mobilized black slave labor.
Eric Williams, a black historian who led Trinidag and Tobago’s independence movement and served as the country’s prime minister, argued, “Where there is sugar, there are slaves.”
Because they had to rely on black slave labor, sugar cane plantations developed mainly on islands in the Caribbean such as Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti. This is because the possibility of slaves escaping is lower than on land, making management easier.
The first black revolution took place on Sugar Cane IslandSaint Domingue (now Haiti), a French colony until the 1700s, was the center of world sugar production. There were approximately 8,000 sugar cane plantations, and 40,000 wealthy plantation owners and their families exploited nearly 500,000 black slaves.
In 1789, a revolution broke out in France, the home country, and news of this reached colonial Haiti. The spirit of the Declaration of Human Rights – freedom, equality, and fraternity – shook black slaves awake. “All humans are equal? “Then what about us?”
The French Republic, which came into power after the Revolution, was embroiled in a war with Britain. The British army, which boasted a powerful navy, occupied key cities in Haiti to block the sugar profits flowing from Haiti to France. The British army that landed in 1794 retreated in 1798, but it was not the French army that made them retreat. It was the yellow fever virus.
The British army that arrived in June 1794 lost about 10% each month until December of that year, and 6,000 of the 13,000 reinforcements that arrived in February 1796 died within a few weeks. In 1798, the British finally packed up.
Around this time, Toussaint Louverture, a black slave-turned-revolutionary, rebelled against France. Meanwhile, in France, Napoleon came to power through a successful coup. Napoleon had no intention of giving up Haiti’s sugarcane industry, which was a cash storehouse for France. In 1802, 65,000 troops were dispatched to Haiti to suppress a rebellion. Toussaint led the rebels to retreat into the mountains. He was trying to hold out until yellow fever season arrived. Toussaint was captured by the French army, but 28,000 French soldiers also lost their lives due to the yellow fever virus.
Eventually, by 1804, the French army retreated with the loss of 50,000 soldiers, and Haiti’s black slaves declared independence that year. The first black revolution in Haiti, an island of sugar cane, occurred because of the harsh exploitation structure of sugar cane plantations, and it was the yellow fever virus that gave them the gift of independence.
The black slave rebellion in Haiti has implications for American history. Napoleon, who was caught up in the war in Haiti, sold Louisiana, a vast French territory in the American continent, to the U.S. government. Louisiana at this time was not the current state of Louisiana in the United States, but a land extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the upper Mississippi River in the Rocky Mountains in the northwest, and had an area equivalent to the combined size of present-day Spain, Italy, England, France, and Germany. With the Louisiana Purchase, the United States not only doubled its territory, but also opened the era of the West that stretched beyond the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.
The blessings and punishments of sugarIt was because of sugar that England became a country of black tea. Until the 17th century, black tea was a culture of the British upper class. Drinking expensive black tea imported from China with precious sugar was a form of consumption that showed off their wealth.
Beginning in the late 17th century, as cheap sugar produced in the Caribbean came to England, black tea culture expanded to the common class, making England a country with black tea.
As the Industrial Revolution occurred in England in the 18th century, milk tea made by mixing black tea with sugar and milk became the drink of workers. As sugar supply exploded in the colonies and the price of sugar fell, milk tea filled with milk and sugar served as a source of protein and sugar and a fatigue reliever for British city workers.
In industrial cities such as Liverpool and Manchester, when the factory whistle sounded, workers rushed out to quickly drink milk tea full of sugar. This is how the tea break began. British workers at the time endured long shifts by drinking sugary milk tea. So, sugar became the basic food that supported the operation of British factories during the Industrial Revolution. In 1800, a British person consumed 18 pounds of sugar per year, and by 1900, annual consumption had increased fivefold to 90 pounds. The empire on which the sun never sets was sustained by sugar consumption.
As sugar production increased, sugar, which was a luxury item, became a daily necessity, bringing about many changes in human eating habits. Sugar was added as a seasoning to most foods, making them sweeter.
During the hunter-gatherer era, humans always suffered from food shortages, so humans genetically evolved to accumulate energy in their bodies in preparation for times when food was scarce. In addition, genes that instinctively prefer sweet tastes work together to create a situation that poses a danger to humans. Metabolic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure are like a punishment brought on by sugar to mankind. The ability to store energy and the preference for sweet tastes, which were essential when hunger threatened survival, ended up becoming harmful traits for humans.
The will for Korean independence grown in sugarcane fieldsOn December 22, 1902, the American steamship Gaelic departed from Jemulpo Port, sounding a long whistle that cut through the darkness of dawn. It was the signal that signaled the beginning of the history of Korean immigration to the United States. In the third class compartment of this ship, a total of 102 Koreans, including 56 men, 21 women, and 25 children, were tossing and turning with anticipation and anxiety about the unknown new world of Hawaii.
It was extreme poverty that forced them to travel to a remote area they had never heard of. In particular, droughts and floods that swept the country in 1901 and 1902 turned many farmers who had previously lived solely on the land into nomads.
After slavery was abolished in the United States, sugar cane plantations filled their workforce by accepting immigrants from overseas. At first, mainly Filipino workers came to work, followed by Japanese and Chinese workers. Coincidentally, in 1902, Hawaiian sugarcane plantation owners, who were suffering from labor disputes between Japanese and Chinese workers, turned their attention to Korea. They spread advertisements across the country announcing the ‘recruitment of Hawaiian sugarcane workers’, and the Korean Empire also created a human resources export organization called Suminwon (輸民院) and sponsored it.
The recruitment advertisement at the time stated, “Hawaii has a mild climate, so there is no extreme heat or cold, free education is available, and it is easy to get a job in any season throughout the year.” This flyer spread along with the rumor that “even trees make money in Hawaii,” and applicants flocked to the site in large numbers.
After the first ship arrived, a total of 7,226 people arrived in Hawaii until immigration to Hawaii was banned by Japanese colonial rule in 1905. More than 80% of them were men, and from around 1910, when their lives were becoming more stable, the marriage issue emerged as the most important issue in immigrant society. Since I came at a young age and had not been able to meet the opposite sex for nearly 10 years, it was a situation that I could not ignore.
Accordingly, the so-called ‘Pictue Bride ’ emerged. ‘Photo brides’ refers to women who married in Hawaii with only a photo of their husband given to them by a matchmaker. From 1910 to 1924, 951 brides were married to Hawaii.
Wayne Patterson, author of ‘The Road to America,’ pointed out that picture brides contributed greatly to the successful settlement of early immigrants. Husbands worked harder because they felt sorry for their wives, and wives took the lead in educating their children, laying the foundation for the success of the second and third generations in the future.
The 102 Koreans who climbed onto the deck of the Gaelic ship through the cold early morning wind on December 22, 1902 were the ‘Columbuses of Korean immigration history.’ And the history of immigration to America began with sugar cane.
Hawaiian immigrants also played a significant role as supporters of overseas independence movements after their homeland fell into a Japanese colony.
On October 26, 1909, when the news that Ahn Jung-geun shot Hirobumi Ito reached the Hawaiian community, 1,595 Hawaiian residents collected $3,236 and sent it to the ‘Ahn Jung-geun Relief Association’ located in Vladivostok, Russia. At the time, it was in Hawaii. The number of Koreans living there is estimated at 4,533, and 35% of Koreans are listed as donors.
Until the 1920s, the amount they had sent to independence was more than $3 million. Considering the fact that the daily wage at the time was 70 cents to $1, this is a huge amount.
Ahn Chang-ho and Rhee Syngman formed the Korean National Association and collected money from Koreans in Hawaii and other Americas, which they supported with independent funds from the Shanghai Provisional Government and other organizations.
Former President Syngman Rhee, who campaigned for independence with funds from people working on Hawaiian sugar cane farms, established a university to repay his debt to Hawaiian immigrants in 1952, when he celebrated the 50th anniversary of immigration to Hawaii. That’s right, it’s Inha. The name Inha University itself is a combination of the letters ‘in’ from Incheon and ‘ha’ from Hawaii. Of course, for the cost of establishing the university, the funds left over from the funds President Lee received from immigrants during his overseas independence movement were used as seed money.
Koreans’ dream of independence was not the only thing that grew in the sugarcane fields of Hawaii. Sun Yat-sen, revered as the father of the nation by both China and Taiwan, spent most of his teenage years in Hawaii. When Sun Yat-sen was five years old, his older brother Sun Mei came to Hawaii as a sugar cane worker. In 1879, the year Sun Yat-sen turned twelve, Sun Mei summoned his younger brother to Hawaii. Sun Yat-sen entered Iolani School, run by the Anglican Church, and graduated in three years before going on to the University of Oahu, the highest educational institution in Hawaii. (Among those who graduated from this school, now renamed Chunahou School, is Barack Obama of the United States. There is a president.) Sun Yat-sen learned the values of democracy and republicanism at school in Hawaii, and this became the banner of the Xinhai Revolution.
The semiconductor myth that started with sugarDuring the Japanese colonial period, domestic sugar consumption depended on Japan’s supply policy. Sugar produced at the ‘Daldang Chosun Factory’, the only refined sugar factory in Korea, was used. The problem was that the ‘daily wage shipbuilding factory’ was located in Pyongyang. After liberation and the division of North and South Korea, there was no way to obtain sugar in South Korea. We had no choice but to rely on American aid.
The amount of sugar aid sent from the United States to Korea fluctuated, making stable supply impossible. In April 1947, when asked about the ‘sugar rationing problem’ at a press conference, the US military governor said, “The US is also short of sugar, so we cannot provide large amounts of sugar.” Naturally, smuggling and black market markets were bound to grow.
The smuggling trade was led by Chinese traders. Through this smuggling trade, called the ‘junk ship trade’, sugar mainly produced in Japan entered Korea via Macau. Secret trade in sugar also took place between North and South Korea. Because there was a daily wage shipbuilding factory in Pyongyang, in North Korea in 1948, sugar was traded at 130 to 150 won per geun, while in South Korea, the price soared to a maximum of 1,560 won per geun, making it possible to make a 10-fold profit if the trafficking was successful. It was a situation.
After the Korean War, the Syngman Rhee government shifted the focus of industrial policy to import substitution for economic reconstruction and price stability. The policy of domestically producing sugar was also included here.
Businessmen also moved in response to this government move. Samyang Corporation’s Kim Yeon-su instructed his son Kim Sang-ha to investigate the Japanese refined sugar business in 1952. Lee Byeong-cheol of Samsung C&T also received advice on the sugar, paper, and pharmaceutical businesses from Japan’s Mitsui C&T in 1952. Mitsui & Co., Ltd. advised, ‘Considering technology, profitability, and factory construction period, sugar manufacturing is the business that can be started the fastest.’ Lee Byung-cheol also followed this advice.
In 1953, Samsung C&T and Samyang Corporation applied to the government for subsidies for the refined sugar industry. Samsung C&T received support, and Samyang Corporation was eliminated. Samyang Corporation believed that Kim Yeon-soo’s older brother, Kim Seong-su, was eliminated because he was an opposition party politician who put the brakes on Syngman Rhee’s long-term rule.
Lee Byung-cheol financed the cost of sugar mill equipment by adding a 20 million Hwan loan from the Bank 토토사이트of Commerce and Industry to the government’s special foreign currency fund of $185,000, and held the founding general meeting of Cheil Jedang in June 1953 with a capital of 20 million Hwan. CheilJedang began producing refined sugar in November 1953.
At the time, the domestic sugar industry imported raw sugar and refined it, but from 1954 to 1955, all of the imported raw sugar was allocated to Cheil Jedang. Thanks to this, CheilJedang grew rapidly. In 1953, the capital was 20 million won, but the profits the following year were eight times the equity capital. By 1955, just two years after its founding, it had grown into a large company with capital of 200 million won through capital increase twice.
The Cuban Revolution that occurred in 1959 also had an impact on the Korean sugar industry. This is because the U.S. sugar trade system, which depended on Cuba for sugar raw materials, was shaken. Beginning in 1959, U.S. aid to raw materials was completely discontinued. However, the shock caused by the Cuban Revolution did not last long. Domestic sugar companies have increased their business independence by securing independent raw sugar import routes based on the increasing domestic sugar consumption.
In this way, Samsung Group as a manufacturing company began in earnest in the sugar industry. Without sugar, today’s Samsung Group and Semiconductor Korea may not have been possible.