Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Hornet's Nest

Apparently Namhae has killer bees. Or something like that.

Korean Father was out very early in the morning on top of an isolated mountain mowing the grass around his mother's grave, during the last days of the summer's heat. It has to be done otherwise it would become unkempt and that would be disrespectful, and since graveyards in Korea are generally small and don't employ anyone to maintain them, it's a family responsibility. The graves of those with no nearby or surviving relatives can often easily be spotted as isolated patches of chaos in an otherwise ordered scene.

This particular morning Korean Father was stung three times by large hornets. It seems that this is OK as long as they don't get you in the head. Then you die. Really. In fact I understand that earlier this year a forty-two year old farmer died in Namhae after this happened to him, and there have been other deaths and incidents. The fourth sting caught Korean Father right between the eyes. His right eye began to lose focus, his lips numbed, he started to lose movement in his jaw, and his arms and legs weakened. He called a friend who's the head of a health clinic, and he phoned for an ambulance, which had to negotiate its way to the top of the mountain Korean Father had walked up. Fortunately there is a road, of sorts, although it's one of those Korean ones you really don't want to look down over the side of.

Fortunately with rapid treatment Korean Father quickly recovered, unlike some other unfortunate victims, although his face was still swollen days later.

Before city dwellers lull themselves into a false sense of security, according to the JoongAng Daily the Busan Fire Department had to administer first aid to 145 people this year, so clearly it's not an issue just confined to the countryside. And while we have a lot of bees and wasps (hornets) where I'm from, they pale in comparison to the Asian Giant Hornet, which grows up to two inches (50mm) in length, and injects a venom so strong it can dissolve human tissue.

So it seems like this is an important safety tip, beware of Korea's killer hornets...

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