My friend John recently informed me about fan death and I’ve never been happier that he did. (Summer is coming!) Apparently, some people in South Korea believe that fans (and sometimes their cooler, in-crowd cousin, the air conditioner) can kill you if left on for an extended period, like overnight. (Accordingly, fans that are sold in South Korea are equipped with timers so that you can leave them on when you go to bed but set them so they don’t stay on all night.)
How does a fan kill you, you ask? There are a few theories multiple threats, including but not limited to:
- creating a vortex in a sealed room and resulting in a “partial (?!) vacuum,” leaving nothing to breathe
- “chopping” up the air particles and leaving no air to breathe
Well, surely the media doesn’t subscribe to such foolishness. Here’s a clip of Korean TV (or so I’m told). I don’t speak the language but I think it’s still pretty illustrative (the empty, orphan shoe, anyone!?):
Well, surely, the government must have something to say to quell the panic:
“If bodies are exposed to electric fans or air conditioners for too long, it causes bodies to lose water and [causes] hypothermia.” – [South] Korea[n] Consumer Protection Board, 2007.
This is obviously foolish and apparently South Koreans don’t leave their country much. I mean, I’d expect (hell, demand!) this from North Korea or maybe even Canada, but South Korea!? C’mon, people!
Further Reading (you know you want to!):
FanDeath.net. The most awesome thing about this site is merely that it exists, the rest of it kinda blows.
Wikipedia: Fan Death. I should probably admit that most of my information came from Wikipedia (it’s always right!), so you might not find a lot of new ground here.
The “Ask A Korean” (no, seriously) blog also addresses fan death, and argues that it’s real, although rarely for the reasons people cite.
Wikipedia: Culture-Specific Syndrome. A culture-specific or culture-bound syndrome” is a is a combination of psychiatric and somatic symptoms that are considered to be a recognizable disease only within a specific society or culture.” Fan Death is one example, another is “genital retraction syndrome.”