A man reportedly died from a heart attack Monday after choking on a live octopus dish.
The 82-year-old was eating sannakji in the southern city of Gwangju when he started choking, the Gwangju Gwangsan Fire Station said, according to The Korea Herald. The word “sannakji” translates to “live octopus” in English.
Sannakji — octopus seasoned with salt and sesame oil and served while still squirming – is among South Korea’s most notorious delicacies. https://t.co/dPBuDMxSo9
— The Korea Herald 코리아헤럴드 (@TheKoreaHerald) October 24, 2023
First responders were unable to resuscitate the man after arriving at the scene due to an emergency call at 11:38 a.m., the outlet reported. He was reportedly pronounced dead at the local hospital.
Sannakji is one of South Korea’s most famous dishes, according to the outlet. The delicacy consists of a living octopus seasoned with salt and sesame oil.
Sannakji was popularized by a scene from the 2004 film “Oldboy,” in which a character consumes an octopus alive at a sushi bar, The Korea Herald noted.
Inspired by the film, foreign tourists post videos on YouTube trying the dish from Korea’s local fish markets, the outlet reported.
Three people died of asphyxiation from eating sannakji between 2007 and 2012, according to the Seoul Fire and Disaster Headquarters, per The Korea Herald. There were reportedly two more deaths in 2013, and another in 2019. (RELATED: Dead Octopus Found In Toilet of Indiana Park)
Western outlets consider sannakji to be among the most dangerous foods due to its choking hazard, according to The Korea Herald. Slicing tentacles into bite-sized pieces and avoiding alcohol are recommended precautions to prevent choking.