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Korean fans of death
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PostPosted: 08-08-2002 05:29    Post subject: Korean fans of death Reply with quote

I currently live and work in S Korea, it's now summer and pretty damn hot so everyone has a fan or AC in their bedroom.

Apparently this story circulates every year, "FAN DEATH TRAGEDY" the story is always that some unfortunate soul has died by having a fan on in the bedroom without having the windows open, it's pretty crazy but their are even doctors on the news warning people about the danger of sleeping with a fan on in your room and the windows shut.

I've talked to quite a few Koreans who believe this story, all the expats here think it's bull.

I dont know a lot about this but has something about it, debunkingit, whatever it's pretty weird.

If you want to see a raging debate happening in korea about this check out some of the posts on the Korean herald, soapbox bulletinboard.

This is weird, enjoy...
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still a drag
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PostPosted: 08-08-2002 13:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where's the link?

What do they think, that not having a window open will create a vacuum?
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PostPosted: 12-08-2002 14:41    Post subject: korean fans of death continued Reply with quote

I've been told by Korean friends and colleagues two stories.

1) The fan sucks the oxygen out of the room creating a vacumn.

2) The fan literally burns the oxygen up! causing death by suffocation.

The first hypothesis is pretty weird, it was explained to me in what we call Konglish here (Korean-English), so something may have been lost in translation.

Here is a url to the realdope webpage that debunks this myth, but this page doesn't have a lot of info on the background of this recurring urban myth.

For a heated discussion on this issue check out the Korean Herald BB at

This was a hot issue a few days ago here and there are lots of crazy flames going on but it may give you an idea of what this is about.

The thing I find fascinating is Doctors actually warning people about this on television..

Korea is a weird place, there is also an urban myth regarding the Japanese hammering metal stakes into the mountains here to stop them growing and being a rival to mt Fuji in Japan, which is obviously preposterous but is believed by some older Koreans.

The expat community here has stirred up some resentment by taking the piss of some of the crazy Korea Lore.

I'm researching the Korean urban myths and will post some data on the web if I can get some solid information.
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Get that
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PostPosted: 12-08-2002 19:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please do Keefus. I for one would be fascinated.
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PostPosted: 20-11-2003 12:12    Post subject: Thai 'Fan Death' UL Reply with quote

This was told to me by a friend but everybody else I tell it to comes across all "Shut up you moron".
Smacks a bit of 'Those wacky foreigners and their foreign ways' but I'd love to know if anybody else has heard it.

Apparently, sleeping with the fan on in your bedroom is associated with dying in your sleep in Thailand. The belief centres around the fan removing the air in your room so you die in your sleep. Obviously this isn't the case, but if somebody commits suicide the cause of death is often attributed to 'fan death' so shame isn't brought on the family. As a result, 'fan death' is widespread throughout the country.

THE INTERESTING BIT comes when visiting western businessmen request a fan for their hotel rooms on hot nights. As they sleep with the fan on and proceed to wake up fresh as daisies in the morning, they are perceived to be immune to 'fan death', but will not reveal the secret.

This can't be true can it? (the misunderstanding, not the fan death. I hope I'm not coming across as THAT stupid). Or is it a mangled version of something else? Didn't have any luck on Google.
roll eyes (sarcastic)
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PostPosted: 25-11-2003 14:37    Post subject: Follow up Reply with quote

Been trawling through previous threads (thanks work!) and found this. Looks like I was wrong with Thailand and it's actually Korea. But not really much comeback apart from the links offered up. Did anything more ever come of this (addressed to posters who've been here longer'n me).nonplus
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Snowmannus Maximus
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PostPosted: 26-11-2003 01:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tsssch! Thailand.. Korea.. I looked and looked but found nothing with Thailand, but Korea has brought up some goodies. Well not many, but some people who definitely know more about it that you or I!!

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Divine Wind
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PostPosted: 23-09-2004 00:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thai fan death merged with Korean one.

New story:

September 23, 2004 KST 08:04 (GMT+9)

Newspapers fan belief in urban myth

Another stiflingly hot summer has come and gone in Korea, and with it, the risk of dying by electric fan.

If you've never heard of death by electric fan, you're probably not from here. Every summer, mainstream Korean newspapers carry reports of people dying after sleeping in a room with the electric fan on and the doors and windows closed.

A search of the JoongAng Ilbo's archives reveals stories about fan death dating back to the early 1970s. A July 9, 1973, story describes how a 20-year-old man was found dead in the morning after going to sleep with two fans turned on and the room's windows and door shut. The story also describes a mysterious jar of chemicals found in the room but does not explain what it was.

A wider search of Korean newspapers shows that each summer from 1990 to 2004, about 10 stories related to someone dying in the presence of an electric fan were published. Some of the deaths were chalked up to electrical failure of the fan and related fires, but many of them said the victims died from suffocation or hypothermia because the windows and doors were closed.

The debate rages on Internet bulletin boards frequented by confused English teachers and other foreigners who have been warned by Korean friends about the hazards of fans. On one message board, a writer, whose nationality is unknown, postulates that because Korean buildings are built primarily from concrete, oxygen is not easily diffused from small rooms. Others say some fans create an air current that seals the room, driving oxygen to the ceiling and carbon dioxide toward the floor, suffocating the person inside.

In an e-mail interview with the IHT-JoongAng Daily, Dr. Yeon Dong-su, dean of Kwandong University's medical school, who has investigated some cases of "fan deaths," refuted some of the wilder theories but insisted fan deaths do occur.

"Many people say that these victims die from lack of oxygen, but that is not true," Dr. Yeon wrote. "Hypothermia does not only occur in the winter when it is cold. The symptoms can also take place if a person has been drinking and turns on a fan in a closed room. Most people wake up when they feel cold, but if you are drunk you will not wake up, even if your body temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius (95 F), at which point you can die from hypothermia.

"It doesn't matter so much about the temperature of the room," he continued. "If it is completely sealed, then in the current of an electric fan, the temperature can drop low enough to cause a person to die of hypothermia."

Gord Giesbrecht, a physical education professor at the University of Manitoba in Canada, is a leading expert on hypothermia. He said he has never heard of fan death or anything like it.

"It's hard to imagine, because to die of hypothermia, [one's body temperature] would have to get down to 28, drop by 10 degrees overnight. We've got people lying in snowbanks overnight here in Winnipeg and they survive," he said.

Is it possible to get hypothermia from a fan? "Maybe if someone was elderly and they were sitting there for three days," he said. "Someone is not going to die from hypothermia because their body temperature drops two or three degrees overnight; it would have to drop eight to 10 degrees."

He added that the only way to verify whether someone had really died of hypothermia during the night would be to take a core body temperature the following morning. Waiting three days while the body was in the morgue wouldn't work because the corpse's temperature can drop during that time, he said.

Many in Seoul's foreign community are also skeptical. Dr. John Linton at Yonsei's Severance Hospital, who attended medical school at the university, is the only non-Korean licensed to practice medicine in the nation.

"There are several things that could be causing the fan deaths, things like pulmonary embolisms, cerebral vascular accidents or arrhythmia," said Dr. Linton. "There is little scientific evidence to support that a fan alone can kill you if are using it in a sealed room. Although it is a common belief among Koreans, there are other explainable reasons for why these deaths are happening."

What is especially important, he said, is the need for autopsies when an unusual death occurs. "There should be a task force set up to look into these fan deaths, and explain them," he said.

So if there's minimal scientific evidence to back the theory behind electric fan deaths, then why does the urban myth persist in Korea?

Dr. Lee Yoon-song is a professor at Seoul National University's medical school and works with the school's Institute of Scientific Investigation. He has conducted autopsies on some of the people who have been described in Korean media as having succumbed to fan death.

"When someone's body temperature drops below 35 degrees, they do start to lose judgment ability," he said. "So if someone was hiking and later found dead, that could be part of the reason. But we can't really apply this to fan accidents. I found most of the victims already had some sort of disease like heart problems or serious alcoholism. So hypothermia is not the main reason for death, but it may contribute."

Dr. Lee blamed the Korean media for the persistence of the urban myth. "Korean reporters are constantly writing inaccurate articles about death by fan, describing these deaths as being caused by the fan. That's why it seems that fan deaths only happen in Korea, when in reality these types of deaths are quite rare.

"They should have reported the victim's original defects such as heart or lung disease, which are the main cause of death [in these cases]," Dr. Lee said. "If a Western doctor investigated these deaths, he would say what really caused the death, and say that a fan was beside the victim."

Ken Kaliher would agree. He has lived in Korea for 33 years, since he first came with the Peace Corps. A collector of off-the-wall news stories, he heard about fan deaths when he first arrived in Korea. But he's never heard of them in any of the many countries he's visited, he said.

"If a story appears in the newspaper, it generally won't get a skeptical response from Koreans," Mr. Kaliher said. "Koreans also tend to believe anything a doctor tells them. They don't usually ask doctors questions."

Ms. Noh, a 20-something who works in the Seoul Metropolitan Education Office, said she learned about fan death from the articles she read every summer. "It's not something we're scared of, but we do think it's weird or abnormal."

Did she ever have a brush with fan death?

"I tried it once, and nothing happened," she said, laughing. "But maybe it's because I had a small fan."

Last edited by Mighty_Emperor on 23-09-2004 00:43; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: 23-09-2004 06:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm...I sleep with the house closed up and a fan on....might explain why I feel so rough some mornings. Can't be that I'm only getting a couple hours sleep those nights!
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Unfeathered Biped
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PostPosted: 23-09-2004 19:40    Post subject: Reply with quote

My fathers wife has a window open summer and winter and says I will suffocate if I keep mine shut (dont want to waste heat in winter, hate flies in summer)

Would you believe I have never suffocated???
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PostPosted: 23-09-2004 22:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've slept with a fan on for years. It helps mask my tinnitus.

If anything, I'd think in a closed room a fan would be healthier, stirring up the air and preventing 'used' air from pooling around the sleeper.
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PostPosted: 25-09-2004 22:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

The writer and Catholic priest Thomas Merton experienced a fan death in Thailand - unfortunately his was when he touched a faulty fan with wet hands and got electrocuted:eek:
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I'm strange...but true
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PostPosted: 17-07-2006 18:16    Post subject: Korean Fan deaths Reply with quote

I am sure this has been covered before but I did a search and can't find anything. If the mods have any idea they can either delete or link pleeeeze.

Apparently there is this fascination about death by fan in Korea, so much so that fans have timing devices on them to make sure nobody dies of hypothermia or any of the other reasons associated with fan death.

The best place for an overall view id the old WIKI:

It was covered in "Metro" [Londons free paper, found on the underground].
I think personally that some of it makes even sense to me... but then again I am very gullible Wink
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Keeping the British end up
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PostPosted: 17-07-2006 18:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the fans with cut-outs exist.
No, i cant find a Korean who believes that fans can kill you. Confused
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PostPosted: 17-07-2006 18:34    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you in Korea at the moment or just surrounded by many Koreans?

If any of the above, it would be interesting to see it from another side. It could be that some people have died whilst their fans were on and companies have just build in the timer to avoid compensation claims but in reality nobody in Korea actually believes this at all??
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