Yesterday I was teaching students a lesson on how to talk about urban legends and conspiracies. The course was going great, until I opened up the book and saw the picture to the left. Really? Why on earth would there be a picture with a skull and a fan? Little did I know, that my students actually believe in the urban legend of fan death.
I could not wrap my mind around this idea so I intently listened to their conversations. Most of the students said that they should be very careful during the summer. They should not leave their fans on at night while sleeping because their body temperature will get so low that they will die! I didn't want to interrupt their great conversations, so I let the fan death topic slide until the end of class.
Meanwhile I was dying of laughter in-side! During the summer I sleep with my ceiling fan on and I have never died! I explained this to my students and they said "Well maybe it is because the fan is on the ceiling, and not pointing directly at your face." Finally the last five minutes of class came and I asked them why they all believed in this urban legend. All of my students except for two believe that fans will kill you while you sleep! They explained to me that during the summer they see warnings on the news and read articles about how dangerous fans are.One of them even warned me to be careful!
1. Your body temperature gets too low: This is the answer that most Koreans will give foreigners. They have been told this from such a young age, that they have a deep fear of fans instilled in them. This is why most fans in Korea have a timer.
2. Asphyxiation: Asphyxia simply means suffocation. Many Koreans believe that the fan actually makes CO2 build up in a room which causes people to suffocate to do a lack of oxygen.
3. Splits oxygen particles: Of course this rumor can't be true! There is no way that a fan has the power to chop up oxygen particles, which is then said to create a fatal amount of CO2 in a room!
4. Bernoulli's principle: Some people trust the Swiss mathematician Daniel Bernouli who published a book titled "Hydrodynamica" in 1738. This theory states that when the speed of a fluid increases, there is a simultaneous decrease in pressure. When this is applied to fan death, it means that the fan will actually suck away all of the air that a person is breathing!
After reading these explanations from numerous websites and hearing about them from students I couldn't believe my eyes and ears! Who in their right mind would believe in this urban legend? This entire topic sound totally crazy! After hearing about this from so many people in Korea, I am looking forward to coming across some type of warning on TV or the Internet. As soon as I find one, I will make sure to share it with everyone!
If you have any questions or comments about fan death in Korea please leave them in the comment box below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at email@example.com.