BEIJING, August 10, 2011 ( – Chinese health officials are investigating a report that an unnamed hospital there is selling pills containing the ground-up corpses of babies as an aphrodisiac.

An investigation by South Korea’s SBS TV claimed that a hospital in China sells dead infants and their placenta to a factory that grinds up the corpses, places the material in pill capsules, and sells them to South Korea. The pills are described in South Korean media as “man pills,” or aphrodisiacs.

The SBS TV crew said they purchased the pills and sent one to South Korea’s National Forensic Service, where it was found to contain material that matched human DNA 99.7 percent. Experts reportedly found bits of hair in the capsules, and could even determine the child’s gender.

Later, as reported by the Times of India, reports emerged in South Korean media that the same China-made pills had been seized by customs officials in Seoul. 

The outrageous claim has led to investigations in both countries to discover whether and how such pills exist.

“South Korean customs are trying to track down any buyers or sellers,” said one official with the South Korean Embassy, according to the Times.  “The authorities do not have any evidence so far that supports the documentary’s allegation, but human ingredients would certainly be considered illegal in South Korea – if it is really happening.”

The news service also reports that the Chinese Health Ministry has expressed “great concern” and said health officials in Jilin Province would begin an immediate investigation.

They quoted a traditional Chinese medicine expert who said that the gruesome prescription was not founded in the ancient art, although traditional practitioners have been known to use placenta and umbilical cords as ingredients.

While claims of dead baby pills may seem outlandish, such a business would find no lack of supply in the Communist country.

China’s human rights activists have said that over 35,000 abortions, many of them forced, take place daily in a country whose one-child policy frequently calls for coercive measures against “illegal pregnancies.” The abortion rate is about ten times that of the United States.

The country may also have a track record of making a profit from human remains in another stage of life: officials of the “Bodies” exhibit displaying hundreds of Chinese corpses in 2008 failed to produce proof of consent when asked by media.  An overseer of the preservation technique reportedly admitted in a sworn affidavit that “all” of the corpses “are unclaimed bodies initially received by the Bureau of Police” that were later handed over for plastination.

A bizarre attitude towards babies’ remains has emerged in Chinese art as well: artist Xiao Yu in 2003 displayed pictures of himself eating the dismembered parts of a dead child, and in 2005 defended his “artwork” displayed in Switzerland consisting of a fetus’ head attached to a bird’s body.