Misleading headlines have propagated for years the morbid story of a Korean lady who supposedly got her tongue impregnated by squid sperm.
Although the real accident is gross as hell, the specifics are quite different.
Now, in case you’re wondering, yes, this story does involve seafood, sex organs and human cavities.
You came to the right place indeed.
Many news outlets have been recycling since 2012 the tale of a 63-year old Korean woman whose tongue became “pregnant” through eating a portion of undercooked squid.
Reports have interpreted the story in many ways, with many claiming the unfortunate woman gave birth to a legion of tiny baby cephalopods.
Others erroneously state the odd occurrence took place this year, while there are versions out there that claim the unplanned impregnation happened because the lady savoured and swallowed a mouthful.
Other sites even go as far as stating the woman’s husband asked her for a divorce after finding out about her unforeseen tongue pregnancy.
Ok, I just made that last one up.
The point is, none of that is true.
The real nightmarish incident first appeared in a paper published in 2012 in the Journal of Parasitology, written by a group of scientists mainly from the Kwandong University College of Medicine.
In their paper, invitingly titled, “Penetration of the Oral Mucosa by Parasite-Like Sperm Bags of Squid: A Case Report in a Korean Woman”, the scientists described how the unfortunate lady got oral stings by spermatophores of a squid.
The species was a todarodes pacificus, which is very popular in Asian cuisine.
“A 63-yr-old Korean woman experienced severe pain in her oral cavity immediately after eating a portion of parboiled squid along with its internal organs.”
The paper also states she did not, in fact, swallow the portion, but spat it out immediately.
The main misconception from the various pieces which covered the disturbing event is that the woman was indeed impregnated by the half boiled animal, meaning, baby squids were found in her mouth.
What really happened – not less disturbing – is that squid spermatophores (packages of sperm) found their way into her mucous membranes.
“She complained of a pricking and foreign-body sensation in the oral cavity. Twelve small, white spindle-shaped, bug-like organisms stuck in the mucous membrane of the tongue, cheek, and gingiva were completely removed, along with the affected mucosa,” states the scientific paper.
So, though disappointing for some, what the doctor removed from her mouth weren’t baby squids, but squid spermatophores.
Sorry folks, tongues cannot get pregnant.
Something which makes the gastronomical nightmare even more frightening, is that the story is not unprecedented.
There are several similar cases well documented by scientists and doctors throughout the years.
Spermatophore attach autonomously, without the action of either the male or female squid, which makes raw male squid a potentially hazardous meal.
So to recap, the nefarious experience with the Korean woman did not happen this year, her tongue did not give birth and for all that is holy, make sure you cook that squid as hard as you can.