A Year in Seoul - video by Maddy

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Maybe the best post I will every write...

Today was a day filled with learning, but while the rest of it can wait, I cannot go a minute longer without sharing - THE SOUTH KOREAN URBAN FAN LEGEND!

Apparently, there is a pervasive and serious belief that falling asleep with a fan on in a closed room can lead to asphyxiation and death. So widespread is this belief, that all Korean fans come equipped with a timer which shuts the fan off at night before it kills the unsuspecting sleeper.

This is no joke. Tell any Korean that you are going to fall asleep with your fan on and your door shut and they will tell you that you are going to die. The theories range from "the fan blades chop up all the oxygen particles in the air" "the fan creates a vortex which sucks all the oxygen out of the room" all the way to "the fan causes death by hypothermia" Despite the fact that none of these explanations are scientifically plausible or even logical, they are persistent and even backed by many South Korean medical professionals. The government regularly attributes deaths to "asphyxiation from electric fans and air conditioners."

Even the media has jumped on the band wagon. Check out this article I found on Wikipedia:

The heat wave which has encompassed Korea for about a week, has generated various heat-related accidents and deaths. At least 10 people died from the effects of electric fans which can remove oxygen from the air and lower body temperatures...
On Friday in eastern Seoul, a 16-year-old girl died from suffocation after she fell asleep in her room with an electric fan in motion. The death toll from fan-related incidents reached 10 during the past week. Medical experts say that this type of death occurs when one is exposed to electric fan breezes for long hours in a sealed area. "Excessive exposure to such a condition lowers one's temperature and hampers blood circulation. And it eventually leads to the paralysis of heart and lungs," says a medical expert.
"To prevent such an accident, one should keep the windows open and not expose oneself directly to fan air," he advised

The government even goes as far as to recommend, "To prevent asphyxiation, timers should be set, wind direction should be rotated and doors should be left open."

It seems that the whole country has been struck by fan hysteria. I just can't get over the ridiculousness, it makes me irrationally happy. I'm going to buy a really big fan, close all my doors and windows, and try it out. I might even video tape it and make it the subject of next week's English lessons. Then again, I don't think I want to be responsible for stopping this urban legend. It's even better than crocodiles in the sewers.


  1. If that's true then I must have died hundreds of times and I continue to die regularly.

  2. don't they have ceiling fans?? that is the weirdest thing I've ever heard...that post made my day, haha