The following is a superstition or belief of the informant based on stories from their parent. I am represented by a K and the informant is represented by an S.
K: Alright, so go ahead and tell me about your superstition.
S: Uhm, uh, my mom used to always tell me that I wasn’t allowed to keep the heater or a fan on, uhm, like when I’m going to sleep. Uhm… and it was always like a weird thing ’cause I always get really warm at night, uhm, especially in Virginia, where I’m coming from. And, uh, so like she was always saying like, uhm, that apparently, like the – the blades of- of- of a fan, could like… attack you… or like suck you in in the middle of the night. And she said that- she was always like- it’s dangerous!!! So, it’s just something that I think about a lot whenever I like leave my fan on in the summer- and I’m like – I hope I don’t die tonight! Sorry mom!
The informant is a 20-year-old sophomore at USC. We were sitting in a room with a group of friends, going around and sharing traditions or superstitions we all had. When we got to her, she mentioned this story. She was sitting on a couch in a living room setting in the Village apartments. We were all just talking and eating food.
This is definitely a belief told by the informant’s mother to keep her daughter safe. While the informant’s mother could be scared of fans, she most likely told her daughter this belief in order to keep her as safe as possible because fans can definitely be dangerous.
The Main Piece
It is common especially in Korean households for people to turn their fans off before they sleep. Despite incredibly high temperatures, there are some superstitious people who refuse to leave their fan on. Elizabeth is one of those people. She refuses to leave her fan on because she is afraid that the air circulation will cause her to die from lack of oxygen. Although she does not believe that will literally happen, she does acknowledge the supernatural world and believes “magical things could be at work and you never really know, so it’s best to be safe.” She was told from a young age that there is a chance that when one leaves the fan on, the carbon dioxide one exhales is trapped in the spinning of the fan. It is because of the accumulation of carbon dioxide Although this belief has never been scientifically proven, many people such as Elizabeth abide by this belief.
My informant was my close friend Elizabeth Kim. She is a Korean undergraduate student, born and raised in California. Her father told her this story at an early age, and her father was told it by his parents. Although she suspects this story of simply being a way of them attempting to save electricity, she was extremely scared of not being able to breathe as a child. This childhood fear stuck with her until this present day.
I first learned about Elizabeth’s hidden fear when I slept over at her house. It was extremely hot because it was during the summer, but luckily we had the fan on. When she turned it off as we were about to go to sleep I was confused as to how she could be possibly cold in this kind of heat. When I asked her to turn it back on she replied “no.” When I asked for an explanation she went on to explain the superstition and why she would rather simply just leave it off.
When I first heard Elizabeth’s superstition I thought it would make a superb ghost story, but nothing more. At first I was upset because I was dying in the summer’s heat, but what could I do but abide by her rules. Looking back at it, I find it intriguing that a scientifically unsupported superstition such as that could have that much of an influence on my friend. For more superstitions having to do with fans and death, one can read: Why every Korean kid knows not to keep the fan on over night.
Lee, Kyung Jin. “Why Every Korean Kid Knows Not to Keep the Fan on over Night.” Public
Radio International. N.p., 4 Nov. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.