Fan death is one of the odder ways of dying in Korea
. Koreans have this hard-to-shake notion that sleeping with a standard electric fan
going in a room will invariably lead to death. No, seriously. They believe this.
Hardly a week goes by in summer that Korean newspapers don't have one story about a person found dead in the morning and a fan running menacingly in the background. For some reason, the fan gets the blame, not bottles of soju
he chugged the night before and the vomit that suffocated him.
Koreans seem to believe leaving a fan on over night will cause either hypothermia
, especially if used in a closed room. The suffocation theory suggests a fan causes some kind of air vortex
that seals in the carbon dioxide
. Uh huh. This is no mere folk belief
. Medical doctors are convinced a fan blowing on you in summer can cause hypothermia and kill you dead.
It's hard to imagine a fan could drop a room temperature enough to cause one to freeze to death over night in summer. Consider, it's not uncommon for drunks in North America to fall asleep in a snowbank
during winter and wake up no worse for wear.
However the idea got implanted in the Korean psyche
, if a person dies of alcohol poisoning
or a heart attack
if there's a running fan in the room, that seems to be the suspected cause and newspapers dutifully report it.