Monday, May 22, 2006

urban legends!

well, with the change in weather, i figured this to be the perfect opportunity to introduce you to some classic korean urban legends. now, i don't want to sound like i'm stereotyping anyone or trying to make grand general statements or implying that westerners are always right, but these urban legends are downright R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S. why are they so ridiculous? no, it's not the idea behind them, because i know that every country has urban legends like these, but it's the fact that VIRTUALLY EVERY KOREAN believes them.

let's start with urban legend #1: fan-deaths.

i'd never heard of this before coming here, but according to korean belief, if you leave a fan on all night in a room with your windows closed, you will suffocate by the fan sucking up and stealing your oxygen. many a foreigner has tried to reason with koreans, be it coworkers, students, or significant others, and i have yet to hear of one case where the korean has thought it to be baloney or changed their mind. honestly. and when some teachers prove to their students that they have, in fact, slept in an enclosed room with a fan facing them directly all night, the students respond with "it's because you're not korean" or "oh, you were lucky that night." so apparently this isn't a world-wide epidemic because it's something that only koreans are prone to. in fact, just about every fan sold here in korea now comes with an automatic timer that turns itself off so you can safely fall asleep with the fan on. oh, and in some cases, it's not just limited to fans. some people believe the same thing will happen in an air conditioned car, so the window should be opened a crack. with the rise of popular shows like mythbusters, you'd think the media would be there to debunk this myth... nope, the media here is the main reason that people believe this. every summer, there are multiple "fan deaths" reported in the news. yep, korea, a leading country when it comes to technology and science, also lists "electric fans" as a cause of death on death certificates.

and, i bring to you urban legend #2: acid rain and baldness.

now i'm not really too familiar with the facts behind this or how many people believe in it, but i can tell you that many koreans think that if you don't use an umbrella or cover yourself in some way, you'll go bald from acid rain. i don't know if the pollution in asia has had an effect on rain or if there is any hint of reality in this, but i'm quite sure it isn't true, unless maybe you are standing under this rain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. i wasn't even aware of this until i was leaving a restaurant today with my coworkers jim and fred (who are korean-american and korean-canadian, respectively). it happened to be raining, and we were strolling casually to go back to work next door. i thought to myself "we're so obviously foreign because we're not madly dashing for cover or trying to use our hands as a makeshift umbrella," but had never thought about the reasoning behind our reactions to the rain. we rather enjoyed the rain, and fred commented on some guy who ran past us who was covering his hair, but the size of his hand compared to the size of his hair/head didn't seem be doing too much in the way of the prevention of wetness. fred told us about how when he and his korean wife visited vancouver, which is notoriously rainy, she just couldn't believe the vast numbers of people who were just putzing around out in the rain, while she was frantically trying to seek cover. she, along with many other koreans, are believers of acid rain baldness.

i just can't believe people are that gullible. anway, i've gotta get going. i've been trying to get more sleep because i've been cutting coffee out of my diet- i hear it stunts your growth.

No comments: