An 82-year-old man in South Korea had a heart attack after choking on a piece of “live octopus,” or san-nakji, a local delicacy comprised of freshly severed — and still wriggling — tentacles.
Fire station authorities in Gwangju, a city near the country’s southern tip, received a report on Monday morning that a piece of san-nakji had become stuck in a man’s throat, according to a fire station official.
When first responders arrived on site, the man had a cardiac arrest and they conducted CPR, the official said.
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The official did not say whether the man survived.
San-nakji refers to a small octopus that is sliced and served raw, often eaten in South Korea’s coastal areas or seafood markets.
San-nakji, or raw octopus with, is a Korean traditional food. Credit: AStudio/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Though the dish’s name translates to “live octopus” this is slightly misleading — the octopus is killed before serving, with its tentacles cut into portions.
However, it is served immediately after slicing and is so fresh that the tentacles’ nerves are still active — causing the octopus to appear “live” as it continues moving on the plate.
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San-nakji is often served with sesame oil, sesame seeds, and sometimes ginger, and has a chewy texture.
It made an appearance on a 2015 episode of Anthony Bourdain’s CNN series Parts Unknown, when the famed chef and television host traveled to South Korea to sample everything from soju to Korean fried chicken — and san-nakji, with Bourdain using his chopsticks to peel a sticky tentacle off the plate.
The dish has also previously made headlines, with local media reporting multiple cases over the years of diners dying after choking or asphyxiating on “live octopus”.
In perhaps the best-known case, dubbed the “octopus murder,” a South Korean man was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012 for allegedly killing his girlfriend and claiming it was a san-nakji accident — before he was acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2013 for insufficient evidence.
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