Esquire Magazine Officially Presents: Professor Jeffery Hodges, Fan-Death Expert
Okay, I'm now officially famous, for Esquire's 'interview' with me on "Fan Death" has finally reached the internet.
The 'interview' is posted this week (specifically, on January 22, 2009) as a reply mediated by Esquire's "Answer Fella" to the question "Why Do Koreans Think Electric Fans Will Kill Them?"
This week, Esquire's Answer Fella dispels an urban myth that may or may not leave you with hypothermia.The 'answer' -- which I'll get to in a moment -- was in response to a query directed to the "Answer Fella" from some newcomer to Korea:
I just arrived in South Korea, and my colleague says that I can die if I sleep in a closed room with a fan on. He insists that "fan death" is an actual danger. What the hell?In response to the reporter from Esquire who contacted me as an 'expert' because of my voluminous writings on "Fan Death," I provided my rather detailed thoughts on the topic, which Esquire pared down to the following:
"I'm told that every Korean believes that fan death is real," Jeffery Hodges, a professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, tells AF. "I've heard as explanation that the belief originated at a time when Koreans were first able to purchase electric fans and used them to such an extent that electrical systems were burdened, so the government spread a rumor that running them overnight was potentially fatal."I actually expressed my words quoted within the above passage in a more qualified way during the 'interview', as readers of this blog will already know:
Hodges also shared the following passage from the government-issued Cultural Guide for Migrant Workers in Korea: "In some cases, a fan turned on too long can cause death from oxygen deficiency, hypothermia, or fire from overheating." "Some Koreans," he adds, "give outlandish explanations about how the whirling blades of a fan can sever oxygen molecules."
So far as AF is able to determine, no scientific literature exists to support the existence of fan death, nor does it seem to be a perceived threat in any other country but Korea. File it -- like the faith of the French in the healing power of Rochebaron cheese smeared on the testicles -- under "Urban Myths, Foreign Dolts."
I doubt this explanation [about a government-inspired rumor]. It fails to account for the strangeness of the belief. The government could have just explained that fans were burdening the electrical system -- or have warned about fires from faulty wiring in fans.I say more, of course, but I don't want to repost what is so easily read at the link.
I must confess, though, that I do fear that with this 'interview', I may have harmed my chances for being awarded the prize in the category "Best Blog for Dire Warnings in Defense of the Absolute and Horrifying Truth Concerning Fan Death!"