An elderly Korean man has died after a still-wriggling piece of octopus he was eating became lodged in his throat.
The victim, 82, was eating the local delicacy, which is known as san-nakji, in South Korea’s southern city of Gwangju on Monday morning when the incident happened.
He had a heart attack while choking and couldn’t be saved when paramedics arrived on the scene. He was pronounced dead later the same day in hospital.
The dish, which is served immediately after the tentacles are sliced off – meaning they’re still convulsing on the plate when it’s served – is particularly popular in the coastal regions of South Korea, reports the Korea Herald. It’s traditionally dressed with a drizzle of sesame oil.
But the dish has caused controversy in recent years due to the significant health risk the tentacles pose. Diners are usually advised to cut the wriggling appendages down into smaller pieces and chew thoroughly before gulping them down. Though deaths are rare, they are not unheard of.
From 2007 to 2012, three people died in South Korea after choking on the live sea creature, Seoul’s Fire and Disaster Headquarters reported previously. In 2013, another two people died, and in 2019, a septuagenarian also perished after choking on san-nakji.
It’s capacity to kill has put it at the top of many lists of the world’s most dangerous foods. Other killer cuisine includes bullfrogs and a pufferfish that if prepared incorrectly will kill its consumers.
The fish dish is known as Fugu and its preparation is strictly controlled in Japan and other parts of Asia, with chefs having to undergo three years of rigorous training before being allowed to serve it.
San-nakji has recently become popular with tourists seeking a thrill, and social media is awash with travellers chomping on the live octopus for clout.
In 2012, the dish also made headlines in a murder case after a South Korean man killed his girlfriend but blamed it on a san-nakji accident. He was sentenced to life imprisonment but let out a year later after the Supreme Court determined there was not enough evidence.