British Teen Has Tongue Surgery To Help Speak Korean

by Christine Kim

A 19-year-old British student recently went under the knife in order to perfect her Korean pronunciations, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

Rhiannon Brooksbank-Jones, who wants to live and work in South Korea after college, has been learning the Korean language for two years after falling in love with the culture thanks to a friend. Together, they would listen to Korean pop and watch TV programs.

However, Jones — born with a slightly shorter than average tongue — was unable to pronounce certain Korean sounds.

“It became apparent after a little while that I was having trouble with the Korean letter ‘L,’ which is very frequent and comes from a slightly higher place in the mouth than the English ‘L,’ and that my tongue was too short,” Jones told the Daily Mail.

After much discussion with her parents and language tutor, Rhiannon opted for a lingual renectomy in which the flap of skin on the underside of the tongue is cut.  Surprisingly, the operation lasted for a mere 20 minutes.

“My pronunciation was very ‘foreign,’ but now I can speak with a native Korean accent,” she said. “The surgical procedure was my only option. It’s not like you can stretch your tongue otherwise. I just decided enough was enough.”

Pleased with the result, she has responded to criticisms rather well.

“Some might say it’s extreme, but you could apply the same argument to plastic surgery. That makes people feel more confident looks-wise, and this made me feel more confident language-wise,” Jones said. “For me, it was like having a tooth pulled.”

So immersed in the culture, Jones has even joined a local Korean church community. She even reads the Bible in Korean and excitedly anticipates her visit to the country.