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Tag: fan death

Slate on Fan Death

At Slate, Ken Jennings—who apparently grew up here in Korea—discusses “fan death” and “other momisms from around the world.” (HT to Charles)

It’s even includes a nod to our very own TK, a notorious purveyor of “fan death trutherism”:

The popularity of the Korean fan death meme probably arises from its central irony: that one of the world’s most technologically modern countries has hard-to-explain issues with a simple mechanical device invented in the 1880s. But sometimes the world’s new obsession with fan death veers into crypto-racist sneering at the oddball, backward Asians. One of the first Web pages to publicize Korean fan-xiety was, on which “Robin S.,” a Canadian who moved to Seoul in 1999 to teach English, marveled at “the lack of critical thinking” displayed by the “loyal natives” he confronted about the issue.

This casual Western contempt has led, charmingly, to the rise of fan death trutherism. “Fan death is real,” announces “T. K. Park,” a Korean-American Washington, D.C.-area blogger, on his popular “Ask a Korean” blog. Park wasn’t a fan-death believer himself, not at first, but—annoyed to see his culture becoming an Internet punchline—he started researching the subject and was surprised to find that U.S. government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control have also recently come out against electric fan use in enclosed rooms. Could Koreans actually have been right all along about fans?

Read the rest on your own.

Video mocking Koreans for fan death gets noticed

Or so said the Hanguk Ilbo:

Personally, I didn’t find it that funny.

For it’s part, the Hanguk Ilbo did quote two Korean doctors who said there is no such thing as “fan death,” but also quoted another one and a Dr. Laurence S. Kalkstein (via Wikipedia) from the University of Miami who claim it’s plausible.

Then there’s always TheKorean’s post on the matter.

US Climatology Expert: Fan Death is Real

Okay, all you expat and gyopo skeptics, time to get out your hats and start munching. US climatology expert Dr. Laurence Kalkstein was in Seoul for a seminar on heat waves and explained the science of how fans kill:

“선풍기로 인한 사망 사고는 대부분 70대 이상 노인에게 발생했으며 주로 밀폐된 방에서 선풍기를 틀고 자다 숨졌다”며 “이는 지금까지 우리가 알고 있는 것과 달리 질식사나 저체온증이 아니다”라고 말했다.

“In a majority of fan death cases, the victim is an elderly person over 70 years old who died in their sleep in an enclosed room with a fan running. Differing from what we know up to now, it’s not suffocation or hypothermia.”

그는 “실내온도가 높을 때 밀폐된 곳에서 선풍기를 틀면 방안의 열기가 사람에게 집중돼 오히려 더 체온이 높아진다”며 “여기에 노출된 피부에 선풍기 바람이 지나가면서 몸의 수분을 빼앗아 결국 심장마비와 뇌졸중, 호흡곤란으로 사망하게 된다”고 설명했다.

He continued, “If a fan is run inside an enclosed room where the indoor temperature is high, the heat is concentrated on the person, so the body temperature actually rises,” further explaining that, “As fan air blows on exposed skin, the body becomes dehydrated, resulting in a heart attack or stroke and death from respiration difficulties.”

미국 환경보호국은 선풍기를 반드시 창문이나 방문 등 외부와 공기가 통하는 곳에 설치하고 밀폐된 방에서 오래 사용하면 안된다고 경고하고 있다.

The US Environmental Protection Agency advises that windows and doors remain open to circulate air and not to use a fan for long periods in an enclosed room.

The entire EPA booklet on heat waves and public health can be viewed in PDF here. Dr. Kalkstein has given numerous media interviews on heat-related illnessed and deaths, including this one with NPR.

*translation note: I had a little difficulty with the sentence “Differing from what we know up to now, it’s not suffocation or hypothermia.” Although it’s a direct quote in the story and was translated as such, the comment discounting suffocation and hypothermia was likely in response to a question, and thus, the “we” in “differing from what we know…” probably refers to Koreans, not experts like Dr. Kalkstein, who I’m pretty sure never believed that fans could suck up oxygen.

The Wiki entry on fan death notes US expert opinions that fans can accelerate hyperthermia when used in spaces with very high temperatures.

HTs to two fellow bloggers who thought the story blogworthy but didn’t have the time to translate it.

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