[KS] Origin of Fan Death?

Mark Peterson markpeterson at byu.edu
Sat Sep 16 02:24:15 EDT 2006

This is just too good.

Not only is there fan death, but there is such a thing as fan  
paralysis.  One of my friends in the late 60's woke up one morning  
with Bell's palsy -- a condition where one is temporarily paralyzed  
on one half of one's face.  So, the result is a kind of a cartoon  
caricature of one's face, where if you smile, only one side of the  
smile lifts the corners of your mouth -- the other side of the face  
remains emotionless.  The temporary nature of the ailment offers  
hope, but "termporary" can mean months and even years.

Well, my friend woke up with it, and one of the first questions was,  
"did he sleep under a fan?"  And he had.  So, there you have it!

A related concern -- and I think this is all a matter of good qi and  
good balance of yin and yang -- is the matter of pregnant women  
wearing sleeveless blouses or other skimpy apparel even in the  
hottest days of summer.  This is not to be done, because it will  
cause problems for the baby.

The latter belief may have waned in recent years.  I don't know.  But  
I think the fan and aircon causing Bell's palsy and other ailments,  
is still a concern.

Mark Peterson

On Sep 15, 2006, at 12:34 PM, Kirk Larsen wrote:

> A parallel cultural phenomenon is the concept of "aircon" disease,  
> the idea
> that bacteria-filled air conditioners can be detrimental to one's  
> health,
> particularly if the A/C is used too frequently. This phenomenon could
> easily share similar origins in government-sponsored austerity/energy-
> conservation measures. On the other hand, if one adds a "kimchi  
> filter" to
> one's A/C, it may fight bird flu :-) (see
> http://www.boingboing.net/2006/02/15/fighting_bird_flu_wi.html for  
> details).
> Cheers,
> Kirk W. Larsen
> Korea Foundation Associate Professor of
> History and International Affairs
> Director International Affairs Program
> 1957 E Street 503H
> The George Washington University
> Washington, DC 20052
> (202) 994-5253
> kwlarsen at gwu.edu
> -----Original Message-----
> From: koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws [mailto:koreanstudies-
> bounces at koreaweb.ws] On Behalf Of i_heinz fenkl
> Sent: Friday, September 15, 2006 12:03 AM
> To: Korean Studies Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [KS] Origin of Fan Death?
> Hi, Stephen,
> I was planning on writing a piece of fiction about this phenom,  
> attributing
> the cause of death to "aetheric hypothermia," but I've not gotten  
> around to
> it.
> I don't know the original source of this myth, but it's been around  
> since
> at
> least the mid-60s, since I recall stern warnings about the fan from  
> when I
> was
> a child.
> You might look into folk beliefs regarding night air also.
> My theory is that the "fan death" belief is a useful and cautionary
> amplification of beliefs regarding qi. As martial arts  
> practitioners know,
> it
> is not a good idea to practice Taiqi or Qigong with one's feet in  
> the water
> or
> in a strong wind. Both of these are drains on one's qi. In the post  
> war
> years,
> it would have been pragmatic for the govt to reduce electrical  
> consumption
> by
> encouraging this myth.
> I NEVER sleep with a fan or AC blowing on me. Not b/c I'm afraid to  
> die,
> but I
> wouldn't want my delicate spirit detatching from my corporeal self!
> Cheers,
> Heinz Insu Fenkl
> On Fri, 15 Sep 2006 04:39:49 +1200
>   "Stephen Epstein" <Stephen.Epstein at vuw.ac.nz> wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> Aidan's remark that we can all effectively practice internet-based
>> self-reliance reminds me of a query for which my own attempt at  
>> Google
> juche
>> would still benefit from the assistance of like-minded comrades.  
>> As anyone
>> who has spent time in South Korea in the summer knows, there are few
> things
>> more dangerous than sleeping with the fan on, which can (of  
>> course) lead
> to
>> death. Now, almost everyone from outside Korea, including neighboring
>> countries such as Japan and China, scoffs at this is nonsense, but  
>> this
> urban
>> legend of sorts is remarkably persisent here and is believed by  
>> otherwise
>> rational people, including medical professionals; the media run  
>> stories
> every
>> summer that detail incidents of people who have died during the night
> beside
>> a fan that was left running.
>> Can anybody shed light on precisely how and when this story came  
>> about?
> Is
>> it indeed localized to South Korea? Although electric fans may not be
>> especially widespread in North Korea, the story could be present  
>> there if
> it
>> predated division (what about ChosOnjok?...). I've included a few  
>> relevant
>> URLs, including a piece that notes such stories appearing in the  
>> Joongang
>> Ilbo as early as 1973, but I'm still looking for more exact  
>> information.
>> http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200609/ 
>> kt2006091017514911980.htm
>> http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a970912.html
>> <http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a970912.html>
> http://joongangdaily.joins.com/ 
> 200409/22/200409222123324579900091009101.html
> http://www.rfa.org/korean/defector_corner/kim_kihyuk/2006/08/15/ 
> home_applian
> ces/
>> Yours, having slept with the fan on just a few nights ago and  
>> living to
> tell
>> the tale,
>> Stephen
>> ________________________________
>> From: koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws 이(가) 다음 사람 대신 보냄
>> Afostercarter at aol.com
>> Sent: 2006-09-13 (수) 오후 6:34
>> To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>> Subject: [KS] Is there one full good source in English on Korean
>> Left(s),past and present?
>> Of course, thanks to Google we can all practise self-reliance now. I
> swiftly
>> found:
>> http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/talks/korea.html
> http://www.mashada.com/forums/index.php? 
> az=printer_friendly&forum=22&topic_i
> d=32859
>> (a Kenyan revolutionary learning admiringly from his Korean comrades)
>> But a full, neutral, authoritative account(s) would be better.
>> I humbly request enlighenment, or at least guidance.
>> Fraternally,
>> Aidan
>> Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology & Modern Korea, Leeds
>> University
>> Home address: 17 Birklands Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD18  
>> 3BY, UK
>> tel: +44(0)  1274  588586         (alt) +44(0) 1264 737634
> mobile:
>> +44(0)  7970  741307
>> fax: +44(0)  1274  773663         ISDN:   +44(0)   1274 589280
>> Email: afostercarter at aol.com     (alt) afostercarter at yahoo.com
> website:
>> www.aidanfc.net
>> [Please use @aol; but if any problems, please try @yahoo too - and  
>> let me
>> know, so I can chide AOL]
>> ___________________
>> In a message dated 13/09/2006 01:55:39 GMT Standard Time,
> frank at koreaweb.ws
>> writes:
>> 	Subj:Re: [KS] About Park Ryol
>> 	Date:13/09/2006 01:55:39 GMT Standard Time
>> 	From:frank at koreaweb.ws
>> 	Reply-to:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>> 	To:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>> 	Sent from the Internet
>> 	Park Rrrrryol, that doesn't exactly conform with
>> 	the Republican transcription system, does it? You
>> 	can take the term  t'ujaeng quite literally,
>> 	meaning combat, fight -- used to refer to fights
>> 	with military means, or later, in mainland China,
>> 	also to ideological struggle (e.g. against
>> 	political enemies within). You will find many
>> 	Communist leaflets from the 1930s and 1940s with
>> 	"t'ujaeng" in the title, and there are even a
>> 	couple of "Bloody Struggle Histories of ..." the
>> 	anti-Japanese movement that were published in
>> 	South Korea between 1945 and 1949. After that the
>> 	term has rarely been used in the South, but
>> 	continued to be in high regard in the North and
>> 	in Mao's China. Although I would not associate
>> 	the term to Hitler's book. "Kampf" may well be
>> 	translated as "t'ujaeng," that seems a good
>> 	choice, in this case. Then again, "Kampf" is a
>> 	much more neutral word in German, not at all as
>> 	defined as "t'ujaeng," and by no means
>> 	necessarily referring to military or militant
>> 	means.
>> 	I doubt that Pak Yol published a text with such
>> 	title, _Naui t'ujaeng_, at least not in South
>> 	Korea or during the colonial period. The
>> 	anarchist journals and publications that the
>> 	circle around Prof. Ha Ki-rak (I think he passed
>> 	away) is publishing in T'aegu would sure have
>> 	reproduced such text, but I never even saw a
>> 	reference to it. The title would indicate that
>> 	the text, if it exists, was likely published in
>> 	North Korea. Am I wrong? Then again, I doubt it
>> 	is a book -- maybe just a short article. Pak was
>> 	not an intellectual, not a leader either, he
>> 	didn't write much. There are others who did, like
>> 	mentioned Ha Ki-rak or Chong Hwa-am, or Yu
>> 	Cha-myong from the Korean minority in China. Even
>> 	Yu Su-in who was once Ba Jin's Esperanto teacher
>> 	and who returned to North Korea (from China) in
>> 	the 1950s has left a long trace of publications
>> 	in both Chinese and Korean from the 1920s to his
>> 	death. (His grandson once showed me a 5000 pages
>> 	manuscript about the anarchist movement that he
>> 	had written.) Pak, on the other hand, had his day
>> 	of fame when he and his lover Kaneko were picked
>> 	by the Japanese authorities after the Kanto Earth
>> 	Quake to go on trial -- as a representative for
>> 	all Koreans in Japan, and as an indirect
>> 	justification of the massacres that had happened
>> 	in the aftermath of the earth quake.
>> 	All there seems to be by Pak Yol himself are
>> 	poems he wrote in prison, published  in the
>> 	popular left-wing magazine _Samcholli_ (no. 14,
>> 	December 1949) [just saw the reference, haven't
>> 	seen them yet]: "Naui okchung chap'yong"
>> 	(Miscellaneous poems from my time in jail). The
>> 	term "chap'yong," by the way, seems to be a
>> 	neo-Japonism. I could only find it in a Japanese
>> 	dictionary.
>> 	Since you mention Kaneko Fumiko (1903-1926) --
>> 	her autobiography, written in prison, for the
>> 	trial, as was usual in the Japanese legal system
>> 	at the time, is a full-fleged book (250 pp. in
>> 	English translation). It is an absolutely amazing
>> 	account! Very well written, extremely mature for
>> 	a twenty year old woman, a woman who grew up
>> 	under depressingly poor circumstances in Japan
>> 	and Korea, and as sensitive and politically
>> 	engaging as an autobiography can possibly be.
>> 	--> _The Prison Memoirs of a Japanese Woman_ (ISBN: 0873328027)
>> 	Best,
>> 	Frank
>> 	>I was interested to see that KBS recently
>> 	>prepared a documentary drama about Kaneko
>> 	>Fumiko, the 'lover' of the Korean anarchist Park
>> 	>Yol. I have heard that Park published an account
>> 	>of his activities (I assume after being freed
>> 	>from prison in 1945?) and some give the title as
>> 	>'na ui tujaeng' (the same Korean as Mein
>> 	>Kampf!!!) but I am unable (with my meagre
>> 	>patience) to track this work. Can I ask if
>> 	>anyone knows of it, and where it mmight be
>> 	>found? I would be most grateful.
>> 	>
>> 	>Brother Anthony
>> 	>Sogang University, Seoul
>> 	>http://hompi.sogang.ac.kr/anthony/
>> 	--
>> 	--------------------------------------
>> 	Frank Hoffmann
>> 	http://koreaweb.ws
> ----------------
> Heinz Insu Fenkl

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