Fan death is a fantastical form of death that has become a part of the heritage of Korea. Even if a Korean is educated and understands the facts about fan death, they have heard the stories so much since childhood that part of them often still believes it. The origins in the belief of fan death are a bit hazy, but I have put together a little about what is known.
As far as medical science can determine, there is virtually no chance of being killed at night by a running fan, with the exception of an electrical fire. Many South Koreans will vehemently defend their belief that a breeze from a fan can kill you in your sleep, so it is probably best not to argue with them about it.
In fact, some fan companies in South Korea issue warnings with their fans that say not to point them at people at night because of the risk of death. Many fans manufactured in Korea also come equipped with timers just in case someone accidentally falls asleep with it running.
Although this is a widely held belief in South Korea, the explanation for the phenomenon varies depending on whom you ask. Most will give an explanation that comes close to one of three reasons:
1. The body’s metabolism gets slower at night. A breeze from a fan lowers the body temperature. These two factors combined cause your vital organs to fail.
2. The motor that runs the fan emits carbon dioxide, which displaces the oxygen in the room, causing suffocation.
3. The blades of the fan cut up oxygen molecules in the air, creating an unbreathable ozone atmosphere.
Although there is no scientific evidence to support any of these theories, you have to at least give them credit for making them sound scientific.
The origin of this belief appears to come from the 1970s. No hard evidence exists, but South Korea was experiencing an energy crisis at that time. It is thought that the government spread this rumor to reduce electricity use at night when it wasn’t needed.
Posted 3355 day ago