Have you ever heard of Fan Death?
Neither had I until recently. Apparently, it is a widely-held cultural fear in Korea of sleeping in an enclosed space with a fan directed on the body. There are timers installed on fans so that they shut off after a certain amount of time to prevent tragedy.
Ask a Korean writes a great article explaining why Fan Death is real, albeit very unlikely. Since reading this post, I’ve been trying to determine an analogous American cultural fear that is equally rare. I’m sure there are many, but the best I can come up with is that “going swimming within 30 minutes of eating will cause you to cramp up and drown.” I know from tons of experience as a swim instructor and swim team member (who would scarf down 5 cookies before diving in the pool), that drowning because of eating is VERY unlikely.
The reason that I find this cultural fear of fans especially amusing is because of the peculiar bedtime habits of my son, The Flash. The Flash is 100% Korean. He is genetically Korean. His first language exposure was Korean. His first foods were Korean. His first passport was issued in Korea. And yet this child sleeps with a 36 inch box fan inches from his face. Inches. And he keeps it on during most of the year. In an enclosed room, I might add!
I laugh and stare at my beautiful ten year old boy and wonder what he would be like if he grew up in Korea. I seriously doubt he’d be sleeping with a fan by his face. I wonder if he would be actually willing to try the chop sticks that he so disdains right now. I wonder if he would eat kimchi (which he will not touch!). Would he be popular and athletic as he is now? Would he still put forth only moderate effort in his school work? Would he ever meet the girl who is now his sister–the girl with whom he has spent more time than any other child in the world?
The Flash is the epitome of American culture in so many ways. He is currently watching a you-tube video about how to advance himself on some game (on the iPad that he filched from me). To my horror, he daily sings little tunes of, “I am so awesome. I am so epic. I am the best!” Yet he won’t let me sing my much more musically advanced songs about how I love him and his sister. He adores American junk food and soda and scoffs at most Asian food.
There is so much we will never know. There is so much to wonder and speculate. I only know that if Fan Death does strike, it will be completely American culture’s fault for failing to warn us all.