Extra! Korea

November 30, 2009

First case of Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 in Korea reported

Filed under: health — extrakorea @ 8:43 am

According to Yonhap News and KBS World, the first case of Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 influenza in Korea has been reported.

A five-year-old boy was diagnosed with H1N1, and then prescribed Tamiflu. After five days, he continued to have a fever and difficulty breathing. He was tested again, and found to still have the virus. However, his condition improved after he was given Relenza, another drug used to treat flu patients.

The World Health Organization said that there have been 75 cases of people developing tolerance for Tamiflu since the outbreak was first reported in North America in April.

November 29, 2009

Fatalities from Tamiflu? Vaccines carry some risk?

Filed under: health — extrakorea @ 4:41 am

You might recall that around November 15, a teenager jumped from a window after taking Tamiflu, possibly after hallucinating. Via Korea Beat comes the story of another teenager who jumped after taking Tamiflu. Unfortunately, unlike the first teenager, he died from his injuries.

It seems that this is not the first fatality after taking Tamiflu. Back in August, a woman in her 30s took Tamiflu as a preventative measure (she was diagnosed with a common cold). She later died, and it is unclear how.

Experts warn against the abuse of Tamiflu. The National Health Service in the United Kingdom said the drug can have side effects. Another report showed that about 20 percent of children who take the drug suffer from neuropsychiatric side effects such as poor concentration, the inability to think clearly and problems in sleeping, among others.

Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, said the product can also cause serious skin and allergic reactions as well as mild cases of nausea and vomiting.

Personally, the news that I find more alarming is this:

Reports have surfaced that Tamiflu-resistant variants of the H1N1 virus are appearing.


U.S. drug experts have called for the prudent use of the drug.

Drug-resistant strains of bacteria and viruses are something that should be taken seriously. Thanks to medicines like antibiotics, we have been winning the war against disease, but overuse of these medicines could turn the tide against us, and the results have the potential to be catastrophic.

The safety of vaccines against H1N1 have also been called into question.

Thirty-year-old pregnant woman Lee Eun-young visited her obstetrician to get advice on the vaccinations against influenza A (H1N1).

Surprisingly, her doctor did not encourage her inoculation, saying during a telephone interview, “I cannot guarantee your safety.”


The government assures the public that the vaccines are safe.


The clinical trial period for the vaccine was less than six months and the antibody formation rate is a shade over 50 percent.

Also, a teenage boy suffered symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, including paralysis, two days after being inoculated against H1N1.

The symptom, called the Guillain-Barre syndrome, is usually triggered by acute infection. But it is also known as a very rare side-effect of regular influenza vaccines, with an incidence of about one in 1 million.

According to the World Health Organization, only 10 GBS cases have been reported worldwide among nearly 65 million people in 40 countries confirmed to have been inoculated with the flu vaccine.

November 15, 2009

Teenager falls (jumps?) from apartment window, possibly after hallucinations from Tamiflu

Filed under: health — extrakorea @ 7:33 am

On Saturday, a teenager reportedly jumped from a sixth-floor apartment window. He was found unconscious but alive after suffering serious fractures to his arms and legs. Now it’s suspected that he may have experienced hallucinations after taking the medication Tamiflu. In Japan, there were allegedly fifteen incidents of such from 2004 to 2007. The boy does not remember anything about the incident.
I hope that this leads to more caution regarding the use of antimicrobial medications. They’re not candy. They’re drugs and can have side effects, and can also lead to drug-resistant microbes, which is something that should be taken more seriously than it is. In Korea, people take medicine and come to work sick, instead of resting at home and letting the body’s own remarkable ability to heal itself take its natural course. (Remember that Koreans work the longest hours in the OECD.) If you recuperate at home, you’re “lazy.” Also, I think that, amongst the men, there’s some machismo involved; if you don’t come to work despite being ill, you’re “weak.”


According to police, the fourteen-year-old reported hallucinations about taking Tamiflu, and yet, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs claims that there is very little to link the teenager’s fall to the drug. It isn’t commonplace for teenagers to hallucinate in Korea, a country with very strict anti-drug laws. Jumping from buildings isn’t rare, as it’s a common suicide method, but the boy wasn’t trying to kill himself.

In slightly-related news, workers at Gaesong, the industrial park in North Korea operated jointly with South Korea, have been provided with Tamiflu as a precautionary measure, “to be used in emergency situations.”

October 23, 2009

What Kim Yu-na eats, according to her FORMER coach (?!)

Filed under: (lack of) journalistic integrity, health, sports — extrakorea @ 11:46 am

Korean journalism never fails to surprise me by its utter lack of professionalism. I thought I had seen it all, but no.
The Chosun Ilbo has a piece in which they describe what world figure skating champion eats everyday, according to her former coach and former doctor.
Kim Yu-na has been living and training in Canada, under Canadian coaches, for the last two or three years. How they hell do they know what she eats?!

33% of Korean adults are overweight or obese

Filed under: health — extrakorea @ 10:56 am

According to a report released Friday, one out of three Korean adults is overweight or obese. The number of people who went to the hospital last year because of diseases caused by obesity, such as diabetes and hypertension, numbered about twenty thousand, an increase of about 50% as compared to 2004.

August 25, 2009

Here’s a health food I’d never heard of before: deer navels

Filed under: health, music, pseudoscience — extrakorea @ 6:05 am

Pak Bom, of the group 2NE1, likes health food. In a recent interview, she reveals one that I had never heard of before.

Bom [Park Bom]: Ah, I talked about health foods too much…. truthfully, I do take care to eat them well. My parents ordered deer umbilici for me. I think it’s good for the body. (Laughs.) I like stuff like red ginseng and wild ginseng. I recommend and even feed them to others.

Dara [Sandara Park]: It’s really bitter. It’s tortuous to eat it, but Bom eats it well while smiling.

August 9, 2009

Sexual performance problems? Our medicine will have you using your thingy to smash through walls

Filed under: health, humor, pseudoscience, What the hell?! — extrakorea @ 9:26 am

Mad props to flakfizer for making and putting up this video.
Do you have problems with sexual performance or urinating? Don’t worry, our medicine will give you pee so powerful you’ll be smashing down walls!
By the way, there’s a kind of Korean wine made from wild berries, bok-bun-ja, which is supposed to have similar enhancement properties.

August 4, 2009

Korean doctors claim to have cured a diabetic woman

Filed under: health, science — extrakorea @ 11:08 am

A group of South Korean doctors at Inha University Hospital claim to have cured a non-obese diabetic woman in her fifties by removing part of her small intestine, including her duodenum.
They plan to publish the results in medical journals.

July 27, 2009

Average Koreans overweight but slimmest in OECD

Filed under: health — extrakorea @ 3:10 pm

The Chosun Ilbo, Korea Herald, and Korea Times all have articles about how statistics indicate that the average South Korean adult, having steadily increased in weight over the last decade, is now overweight.
It should be noted, however, that Korea has the lowest rates of obesity in the OECD.

July 2, 2009

Man wins 38 million won because penis enlargement surgery gave him impotence

Filed under: hard to categorize, health — extrakorea @ 2:45 pm

A man had penis enlargement surgery, but it made him impotent. The hospital has been ordered to pay him 38 million won. How did the court arrive at this figure?

The Seoul Central District Court held the hospital liable for the accident, and estimated the amount of compensation based on the assumption that the sexual dysfunction deprived him of 15 percent of his capability to earn an income.

“It’s based on the belief he can work with no health problems until the age of 60,” said Judge Roh Ho-sung. “We estimated his sexual incapacity will undermine 15 percent of his capability to earn money through labor up to that age.”

How does being impotent affect his ability to work? Is he a porn star?

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