Bizarre Korean beliefs and urban legends

1.     Fan death – To me, this is the most hilarious urban legend that I’ve encountered.  Apparently, a number of years ago, a man in very poor health was sleeping in a 90+ degree room with the windows closed and had a fan blowing on him, and the fan, in combination with his poor health and alcohol-induced state, caused him to dehydrate and get hypothermia, killing him. Conventional conclusion: don’t go to sleep drunk, dehydrated, and in poor health while the room is ridiculously hot and lacks proper ventilation. The Korean conclusion: fans and air conditioners, when used in an enclosed room, will somehow remove the air from the room and cause you to suffocate. The explanations can vary, like the device “sucking out” the oxygen, the device “chopping” the oxygen up, or pushing the oxygen down to the floor and leaving you nothing to breath. Fans that you can purchase at all of the retailers here have shut-off timers on them that the manufacturers, government, and doctors strongly suggest for you to use so that you do not die from the fan. Everyone in the country, with few exceptions, believes in this and will not accept any notion to the contrary. Korean doctors and academics have researched and documented this “phenomenon” while doctors and academics from around the world have researched and documented how it is not the case and how ridiculous this Korean belief is.  Read more on Wikipedia.

2.     Never write a name in red ink because it will cause the person to die. The justification goes like this: red is the color of blood – blood’s appearance is a sign of death – conclusion: writing a name in red will cause someone to die. The children, and the teachers even more-so, are terrified of having a name written in red.

3.    Your blood type has a direct correlation to the type of personality you have, or will have, and other various things about your life and lifestyle. Never mind things like genetics, environment, and life experiences – it’s your blood type.

4.    The season you are born in determines how tall you will grow. Again, never mind genetics and environment, it all has to do with the season you were born in. There has been substantial research in this field by Korean experts, and every time they find a population that doesn’t follow the trends that they expect to find they will simply label it an anomaly and entirely insignificant.

3 thoughts on “Bizarre Korean beliefs and urban legends”

  1. Like all cultures around the world, people take superstitions with a grain of salt. It is like the ‘knock on wood’ legend in Western cultures. If you told an asian that if you didn’t ‘knock on wood’ right after talking about an unfortunate situation, it would then would happen to you, they would think the idea/Westerners were stupid.

  2. I agree. Every culture has their own superstitions. We might not be aware of the excessive use of fans in Asia since it can get extremely hot in some countries like Korea, Vietnam and Thailand ect. Most asians will understand the science behind the fan deaths, which happen to occur from time to time where I live and work. And aren’t horoscopes the same thing? have “a direct correlation to the type of personality you have, or will have, and other various things about your life and lifestyle”

  3. Every culture has its own superstitions, but oriental cultures place unusual importance on them. It has much to do with their illogical rejection of reason and rationality over values like faith and tradition. In short, it’s their overly conservative “shut up and listen” mentality that leads to this.

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