The fan death story, aside from a few highly educated Korean doctors, seems totally pervasive in this culture. I've never met one Korean that doesn't believe fans can kill. And no argument can sway them:
- no one dies of fan death outside of Korea
- I have two fans blowing on my face all summer and I've not died
- there's no scientific basis for any of the claims
Korea is an extremely hierarchical society and arguments from authority (doctors, parents, media, government) have incredible weight here. (The school is on fire. No one is calling the fire department or evacuating. Why? asks the foreign teacher. "The boss isn't here and none of us have the authority to call the fire department or close the school.")
Further, Korea is one big family. Everyone is a Kim or a Park or Lee practically. Everyone is older brother or aunt. And family is everything in Korea. There's no social safety net. A Korean without a family is cut off from everything. One may as well ask a Korean to cut off his/her right hand as to go against the wishes and beliefs of his/her family.
So, if someone in your family tells you fans are nuthin' but deadly, you believe it. How could you possibly believe a family member would lie to you? If they're lying about this. what else are they lying about?