Imagine a mask that doesn’t cover up half your face, one that you don’t have to take off to eat or drink. Imagine a mask that fully protects you from the coronavirus—or just about any virus.
That’s what a South Korean company claimed its product, a nose ring, does. The device is called the Kogori Mask, literally “nose ring mask,” although it clearly isn’t a mask. All you have to do is clip it between your nostrils, the company says on its website.
Korean police on Wednesday said they were charging Han Ki-eon, the inventor of the nose ring, with violating a law that bans deceptive advertising of healthcare appliances. The maximum penalty is three years in prison or a fine of about $26,000.
In an interview, Han denied to VICE World News that the device was a scam. He said he would pay a fine but would not stop promoting the ring, adding that he sold 300 rings in the last year.
If people believed in him, he said, “the coronavirus would have been eradicated in weeks.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the development of technologies such as mRNA vaccines but also provided fertile ground for questionable protective equipment, such as a copper-infused mask with a big hole sold in the Philippines.
The Philippine government has discouraged the use of the mask days after VICE World News reported on the mask maker’s attempt to silence doctors who questioned its safety.
The nose ring, which costs $44 each, is supposed to work using radiation to somehow improve your immunity and “resist the invasion of external viruses,” according to a video posted on its YouTube channel in July.
“A weak nose cannot generate negative ions, and is exposed to various viruses,” Han said in the video. None of his claims that the ring prevents respiratory diseases has been verified by health authorities.
Han also said that the nose clip relieves snoring, which, for what it’s worth, is not such an outlandish claim.