It was an epidemic ... with no evidence to support it. All of those "suicides" were stories of nameless victims that couldn't be traced back to a legitimate source. It was, as far as anyone can tell, a scandal invented by moralizing hand-wringers. Again, the link between fictional suicide and real suicide is complicated, but at least no one was really throwing themselves to their doom because an 18th-century LiveJournal made it look cool.
"Fan Death" Terrifies South Koreans, Confuses Everyone Else
If you live in a climate that feels like Satan's sweaty ball sack during the height of summer, you've probably left a fan on overnight and never given it a second thought. But if you do that in South Korea, people are going to ask you why your dumb ass has a death wish.
A significant portion of the Korean population believes that running a fan in a closed room will kill you dead, even though no one can agree why. Some argue that it causes hypothermia, others say that all of the oxygen is sucked away or rendered stale, while a third theory posits that the fan somehow converts oxygen into carbon dioxide, like an evil reverse-tree which proves man shouldn't mock nature. And this isn't some silly urban legend that only kids believe. A state-funded consumer agency listed "asphyxiation from electric fans and air-conditioners" as a common summer accident citizens should be careful to avoid.
Meanwhile, North Koreans don't have these superstitions, or electricity.
You may be tempted to dismiss this as another "ignorant foreigners being wacky" story that your relatives on Facebook love so much, but what do you think South Koreans would have to say about Westerners who refuse to vaccinate their kids, or believe that fluoridated water is part of a government plot to make the population lethargic and malleable? Something crazy can become true if everyone agrees that it is. Stories of fans killing people often make South Korean news, because sometimes people die in their sleep, and you can't prove that the fan didn't contribute. One supposed mysterious death from the 1970s, of a man who was found dead in a sealed room with two fans running, is believed to have popularized the myth ... unless you want to go further down the rabbit hole, and subscribe to the belief that the country's military dictatorship invented the myth to curb electricity consumption during a '70s energy crisis. Of course, that's exactly what Big Fan wants us to think.
The latest shocking epidemic is buying Mark's book and following him on Twitter.
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