I Live In Korea

My name is Ben Gwynne. I USED to teach English in Incheon, South Korea. Here's some photos, stories, videos, etc.

Jun 11, 2010

The Korean Fan Death

First I want to say there are many links on this topic posted by other people who talk about urban legends and point out ridiculous beliefs, so I can take no credit for the concept of this post. I just think it’s worth posting on here so my friends/family that check this out can learn about this topic.

So, I’ll just get straight to the point. It is believed by some people in South Korea that leaving a FAN on overnight can cause death. I’m not kidding. There’s some strange beliefs people over here have when it comes to health, usually centered around kimchi and how it can cure anything known to man. The fan death takes the cake though.

So, how can leaving a fan on overnight cause you to die? Here’s the 5 explanations:

"1. An electric fan creates a vortex, which sucks the oxygen from the enclosed and sealed room and creates a partial vacuum inside

2. An electric fan chops up all the oxygen particles in the air leaving none to breathe.

3. The fan uses up the oxygen in the room and creates fatal levels of carbon dioxide.

4. That if the fan is put directly in front of the face of the sleeping person, it will suck all the air away, preventing one from breathing

5. That fans contribute to hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Metabolism slows down at night, so you become more sensitive to temperature, and thus more prone to hypothermia. If the fan is left on all night in a sealed and enclosed room, believers in fan death suppose that it will lower the temperature of the room to the point that it can cause hypothermia."

This isn’t just some internet BS that is circulated around either, even a government funded agency has issued a statement on the topic

“The Korea Consumer Protection Board (KCPB), a South Korean government-funded public agency, issued a consumer safety alert in 2006 warning that "asphyxiation from electric fans and air conditioners" was among South Korea's five most common seasonal summer accidents or injuries, according to data they collected. Also included among the five hazards were air conditioner explosions and sanitation issues, including food poisoning and opportunistic pathogens harbored in air conditioners. The KCPB published the following:

If bodies are exposed to electric fans or air conditioners for too long, it causes [the] bodies to lose water and [causes] hypothermia. If directly in contact with [air current from] a fan, this could lead to death from [an] increase of carbon dioxide saturation concentration [sic] and decrease of oxygen concentration. The risks are higher for the elderly and patients with respiratory problems. From 2003 [to] 2005, a total of 20 cases were reported through the CISS involving asphyxiations caused by leaving electric fans and air conditioners on while sleeping. To prevent asphyxiation, timers should be set, wind direction should be rotated and doors should be left open.

So yeah, leave a fan on for two hours, and YOU MIGHT DIE. Most fans, such as my own, have a timer on them which prevents you from keeping the fan running for more than 2 hours.

This sucks A LOT when I am trying to sleep at night and it’s hot out.

Here’s a news report about a fan death happening, you won’t be able to understand the Korean, but the pictures say it all. (no bodies or anything shown, only a 30 second clip which has pictures mostly of fans)

This is one of the most ridiculous and unbelievable things I’ve ever heard, somewhere between Obama being a muslim who wasn’t born in the United States, and the people in Alabama who claimed they saw a Leprechaun.

Don't be mistaken, not every Korean believes this is true. However, a friend here has confirmed that he knows Koreans who believe this. One of his coworkers and one of his friends. I haven’t asked my coworkers or any Korean people I know what they think. I’m worried they’ll tell me they believe it and I won’t be able to speak to them anymore. Some things are better left unknown...


Anonymous said...

That's just dumb

Mark said...

A couple weeks ago, I started using a fan in my bedroom. The fan is on all night. And here I am writing a comment to you. Maybe the air vortexes are different across the Sea Of Japan.

Ben said...

"Sea of Japan"???? Don't you know we call it the East Sea in Korea?!?!?!?! It's "disputed territory" for folks over here. Those are fighting words Mark!

Armybratwhousedtoliveinkorea said...

Ive been reading your posts like crazy and its giving me a feeling of nostalgia. I miss Korea XD. The fan thing LOL its... pretty crazy my mom believes it -.-. im half korean and i live here in the states now but i lived in korea for 9 years. im 16 now tho

Cindy Dy said...

Well done! Nice post! This really helps me to find the answers to my question. Hoping, that you will continue posting articles having lots of useful information. Thanks a lot!


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