Mind

Firecrackers and Mouths Don't Mix

Neuroskeptic iconNeuroskepticBy NeuroskepticOct 9, 2013 6:58 PM

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This is a neuroscience blog. But occasionally, in my search for neuroscience, I come across an unrelated paper so astonishing that I just have to write about it. This is one of them: An Explosion in the Oral Cavity by a Firecracker, published last month. A 16 year old South Korean boy suffered severe facial injuries after a firecracker exploded in his mouth. The patient explained that he sustained the injury while

"playing ‘Yonggari events’ with his friends"

. Yonggari or Yonggary is a kind of Korean Godzilla, a 1960s movie monster who looks like this:

A "Yonggari event", it seems, is where you put a firecracker in your mouth and set it off, to replicate the monster's breath-of-flame effect. Really. I don't know how popular this is in Korea. Google finds no mention of this phrase in English, although the paper contains a helpful if grainy shot of someone doing it, taken from YouTube.

Anyway, in the case of the 16 year old boy, "unfortunately, the firecracker exploded backwards." I'm not sure if this is a 'face saving' euphemism for "he put it in the wrong way around". The resulting injuries were not pretty. If you have a very strong stomach, you should check out Figure 2 in the paper. It's the red and white picture. It is far too horrible for this blog. So here's what the patient looked like 8 months later after reconstructive surgery:

Believe it or not, there's an even more bizarre case of self-inflicted firecracker injury on record. In 2009, Italian surgeons described the case of a young man whose explosion came about in the course of 'a game of Russian roulette'.

Seung Min Nam, MD (2013). An Explosion in the Oral Cavity by a Firecracker The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 24 (5) DOI: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e31829aca1f

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