“Fan death” isn’t really specific to Busan, it’s country wide; however, this is my last post about Korea and I just have to talk about it. Fan death is a very serious thing and not something to be taken lightly in Korea. Fan death is the misconception that leaving an electric fan running in a closed room (no windows or doors open) can lead to death, literally, death. To try and get across just how seriously this is taken in Korea, consider that in 2006, the Korea Consumer Protection Board (a government-funded public agency) issued a consumer safety alert and published the following: “If bodies are exposed to electric fans or air conditioners for too long, it causes [the] bodies to lose water and [causes] hypothermia. If directly in contact with [air current from] a fan, this could lead to death from [an] increase of carbon dioxide saturation concentration [sic] and decrease of oxygen concentration. The risks are higher for the elderly and patients with respiratory problems. From 2003 [to] 2005, a total of 20 cases were reported through the CISS involving asphyxiations caused by leaving electric fans and air conditioners on while sleeping. To prevent asphyxiation, timers should be set, wind direction should be rotated, and doors should be left open.” The media coverage doesn’t end with the government… in 2011, The Korea Herald, wrote: “A man reportedly died on Monday morning after sleeping with an electric fan running. The 59-year-old victim, only known by his surname Min, was found dead with the fan fixed directly at him.” The fear has been embedded in Korean culture with stories dating all the way back to the 1920’s warning of the risks of nausea, asphyxiation, and facial paralysis from the ‘new technology’. Supposedly, in recent years opinion is shifting with younger Koreans due to information available on the internet. Just in case any Koreans read this, I have slept in a closed room with a fan pointed directly at me for the entire night many, many times over the course of this past year and I live to tell the story!
Busan is a coastal town a few hours south of Seoul best known for it’s beaches and seafood. We told ourselves we would bundle up and check out the beaches regardless of the weather, but really, who were we kidding? It was over 40 degrees in the Philippines and hovering around zero degrees in Busan. One day we attempted to see the scenic side of Busan and visit Taejongdae Park, a natural park facing the open sea on the southernmost tip of island Yeongdo-gu. It took almost two hours to get there and once we were there, all we wanted to do was leave. The wind whipped around and over the cliffs trying to simultaneously freeze and blow me away. The original plan was to walk through the park but there was no way we were doing that once we experienced just how cold it was. Since we had come all the way out here, we bought tickets for the small tourist ‘train’ that takes you around the park. It’s hop-on hop-off style, but we only got off at one stop (the lighthouse) and then got the next train all the way back to the start. It’s also worth noting that while the train was quite full, nothing was open – the cafe and indoor viewing platform were closed up giving us no refuge from the cold. At least we can say we saw the ocean…!
On the way back to our apartment from the park, we walked the area around BIFF square searching out dinner from the hundreds of street vendors set up.
Other than the above outing and our evening at Spa Land (see separate post), we spent the majority of our time in Busan wandering around – and ducking inside as often as possible. Busan is home to the world’s largest department store: Shinesgae Centum City Department Store. From our short time in Korea, we concluded that Koreans love department stores, and I loved them too. They take the best “Hudson’s Bay” or “Macy’s” that Canada or the States has to offer and better it times a million. Every Korean department store that we went in (and I made sure to test quite a few) was beautifully laid out and decorated. The multilevel shopping centers were all organized and easy to navigate, not overcrowded and yet full of everything imaginable, and incredibly clean. The food courts were an entire floor and consisted of hundreds of stalls all specializing in something unique.