“Fan Death”

While he was here, Marc and I came up with a phrase that we say whenever we discover something very odd about Koreans/Korean culture (typically some belief or another, typically an ignorant one):  “Fan Death”

Koreans believe that if you have a fan on and the windows closed, you will die, because fans “steal your air”.  There are even warnings on the boxes, and they all have timers with a maximum of 3 hours.  They also believe that if a pet is left alone with a fan in the room, that it will explode.  Not just suffocate (as they believe humans do), but spontaneously explode.  It’s absolutely absurd, and at the same time rather humorous.  Thus, when something similarly odd about Korea comes up, we both look at eachother and say “Fan Death”.  It’s an inside joke, and one that won’t get much use now that he isn’t here, but it does make me chuckle.

Generally, I am very accepting of odd cultural beliefs, but the Koreans have several (such as the examples I just gave) that just reek of plain old ignorance, and so I can’t help but laugh.


And because I hate making posts that don’t contain a photo, here, have a visual-overload one from Marc and I’s visit to Cheongpyeongsa temple in Gangwondo:

Sometimes I think that monks must be into psychedelics…

5 Responses to ““Fan Death””

  1. 1 Tuttle July 29, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Surely the papers include stories, or at least obits, of fan death victims, right? What is the Fan Death rate, or has the public awareness campaign reduced Fan Death to zero?

  2. 2 jindowaygook July 30, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Oh yes, there was an article recently about a foreigner who was found dead in his apartment with no apparent cause of death. Without any police investigation at all, it was ruled as “fan death”, because he was found with his windows closed and a fan on.

    I like Korea, but sometimes this place is nuts.

  3. 3 Jen August 4, 2008 at 1:08 pm


    Seriously. This whole fan death thing amuses me. Perhaps it has something to do with gas deaths rather than “fan” deaths. Do they put that stuff in the gas to make it smell. Perhaps in the old days they didn’t and people died with their fans running.


    In case you hadn’t seen it. 🙂

  4. 4 Rose August 7, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Just FYI, this extra tidbit of pets exploding greatly amused my fellow roommates. (After they heard me cracking up alone in my room from reading the entry, they had me explain.)

  5. 5 Driftingfocus August 7, 2008 at 8:19 am

    I’m assuming there are Chinese around – you should ask them what they think of this belief.

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July 2008

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