This Christmas, pretend you care about the health of your loved ones by buying them an exotic gift from a country they know nothing about.

Avoid dying in your sleep

Fan Death is supposedly a common cause of death in South Korea. It works like this: You fall asleep with a fan whirring in your room. The fan slices the oxygen particles in the air and you slowly suffocate.

You might have heard of this and dismissed it as silly gibberish. Nobody, you say, is stupid enough to believe in fan death. But that sadly isn’t true. The Korean government believes in fan death and legally requires all fans sold in Korea to come equipped with timers.

So this Christmas buy your loved ones a Korean fan. Make sure they never die a fictional death.

Increase your boner power

Korean cuisine centres around two ideas: the first is to alleviate a hangover, and the second is to gain a stronger boner.

If it’s the boner enhancement you’re looking for, look no further than South Korea’s array of boner-strengthening products. The most well-known is dog meat. Yes, there is a reason for torturing animals to death and that reason is your penis. It’s a (Korean-proven) scientific fact that dog meat gives you a ferocious boner.

Another classic Korean cure for an uncooperative wang is live octopus. Sannakji is the practice of eating a whole live octopus and hoping that its tentacles don’t choke you to death. It was made famous by the movie, Oldboy. (Warning: Side effects include liver and kidney failure.)


If you’re opposed to hanging dogs and eating animals alive (you goddamn hippy!) then perhaps you might try a cup of ginseng tea, followed by a trip to the nearest brothel.

Cure AIDS, SARS and Swine Flu

Are you sick of AIDS? Does SARS get you down? Have you been stuck in bed with Foreigner Swine Flu? Never fear! Korea has the answer!

The answer, of course, is kimchi. Did you know that kimchi can prevent AIDS? Korea knows. Korea’s low AIDS rate has nothing to do with a blanket ban on HIV-positive people entering the country. It’s all thanks to kimchi. How about all those people that got SARS? They obviously didn’t eat enough pickled cabbage. What happened when scientists force-fed kimchi to birds with Swine Flu? 99% of them said that Swine Flu was no longer the biggest problem in their life.

Note: Kimchi can also be used to cure an upset stomach, alleviate cold symptoms and give you a more powerful boner. Side effects include stomach cancer and rancid farts.

Steamed Clam

Feeling not so fresh? Got an achy vagina? Korea has another wonderful solution to your most intimate of problems, and it’s been endorsed by the LA Times!

The answer is, obviously, to squat over a bowl of boiling water. After all, nothing says healthy genitalia like boiling water. The steam bath is said to “reduce stress, fight infections, clear hemorrhoids, regulate menstrual cycles and aid infertility, among many other health benefits. In Korea, many women steam regularly after their monthly periods.

So, this Christmas, get the women in your life the greatest gift of all: a bowl of boiling water. And, perhaps, an open-crotch chair to help squat.


TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

DAVID WILLS is the managing editor of Beatdom Magazine, and the author of The Dog Farm and Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult'. You can learn more about him on his website.

61 responses to “If Santa Was Korean…”

  1. Slade Ham says:

    Might I add the Penis Fish to your otherwise perfect list of Korean nightmare gifts?

    • Haha, yes you might. I also wanted to add fried bugs and jellyfish but I wasn’t sure if people even pretended these things had health benefits.

      I did once eat the penis fish. It’s not as bad as it looks (which is the case with many weird foods).

      • Irene Zion says:

        I feel I’m interrupting here, but in the Amazon River there is a small fish that follows the stream of a person’s urine up and into the penis and apparently has backwards barbs so that it cannot be pulled out.
        I can’t imagine what the fish can gain by doing this.
        I’m just interrupting.

        • You’re not interrupting, Irene. That’s what most normal people would think of if they heard the phrase “penis fish.” Alas, for anyone unfortunate enough to have been in Korea or witnessed the hideousness of these – the ugliest of creatures – there is nothing as pleasant as a penis-choking animal that springs to mind.

          Also, the fish you’re referring to, I believe, are not as discriminatory as to prefer the penis. They’ll swim up any old stream of urine, and it’s only the ridiculousness of its ability to swim upstream that gets it the penis notoriety.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Yeah, David,
          I know it can swim up a urethra too,
          I just don’t want to think about it,
          so I pretend it’s just a male thing.

        • Good idea. That little bug has pretty much kept me from visiting South America. I don’t even want to think about it.

        • Irene Zion says:


          Just pee in the toilet before you go swimming.
          They don’t just swim up your penis willy-nilly, they have to have the urine stream to follow.
          You should absolutely go to the Amazon!
          It’s mind-blowing.

          (I think we’re the only one’s up at this hour, have you noticed?)

        • I suppose that’s the reasonable thing to do. A penis-invading fish is probably not the most dangerous animal you’ll find in the Amazon, anyway. I’d love to see South America, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I go where I can afford to stay for a while, and so far that’s meant Asia. I love Asia.

          It’s only 8:45pm over here in China. Usually Zara and Simon are around at this hour, being fellow inhabiters of the future.

        • Irene Zion says:

          It’s 10 PM in Singapore, Tuesday night, here.
          Where are those lazy New Zealanders and Australians, anyway?
          I have to go to the gate soon and start the whole thing.

          (Going to be hell to pay getting back on Miami Beach time!)

        • Zara Potts says:

          I’m here! I’m sorry I’m late, fellow inhabiter of the future!

          Once again, your post made me laugh out loud, David. I’m so glad we get to see these things through your eyes. You’re a gift!

  2. Dana says:

    Ha! Oh my god. I’m going to have penis fish nightmares!
    Great stuff David!

  3. I *love* the fan death story — that’s hilarious! My next fictional character’s going to die of fan death, and that’s all there is to it.

    My aunt who is Korean makes kimchi — the buried in the back yard kind of kimchi — and I don’t know about what it can or cannot cure, but I do know that the smell of it can clear the sinuses and a room.

    Happy holidays, David!

    • Oh, please please please write about someone dying from fan death. I’d love that!

      There’s a YouTube video of Steve Carrell (sp?) making kimchi. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. The smell makes his nose bleed.

      Happy Holidays, Cynthia!

  4. Now I know that last minute gift to buy my wife: a bowl of boiling water. Thanks David!

  5. Don Mitchell says:

    I saw that article in the LA Times and I realized that if it catches on, and if I’m quick enough to buy up all the chairs with busted wicker seats, then all I need is my Sawzall to shorten the legs and scissors for a little wicker trim and I’ll make a fortune. A fortune!

    Jeffrey — you get the bowls at TJ Maxx, and I’ll cut you in.

    David — you get some stickers with Korean characters on them. Doesn’t matter what they say — maybe better if it’s nonsense. I’ll cut you in too.

    We’ll all be rich!

    • Slade Ham says:

      I can boil water. I know that’s a shitty skill to bring to the table, but I want in.

    • Don, that’s genius. We’ll make a fortune!

      • Don Mitchell says:

        Yeah, we will. Because we’ll be offering antique chairs, and that means we can charge more.

        And with the TJ Maxx bowls, see, it’s that combination of traditional and modern. People with money will say, Oh yeah, that’s how they do it in Asia, that’s what’s meant by fusion.

        I’m thinking $400, $500 easy.

        Now as for you, Slade, you can help the fusion thing along by recording a genuine tribal chant of some kind, better if no one can ever figure out what’s being said. The recording’s $50 more and you can keep it all.

        All over America. Pudenda poking through our wicker.

        • There’s nothing like fleecing rubes, especially the wealthy ones. No one will even stop to say, “Hey, they don’t use chairs in Korea…” The best thing is, we could probably sell it to the Koreans as well. We’ll call it a westernised version of their own original idea and they’ll buy it because it looks exotic. And with Obama and Lee’s new free trade thing, we could probably double our money.

        • Slade Ham says:

          You guys know that this only half funny. The other half of it is screaming to be put on an infomercial and actually sold for $29.99. Buy now and we’ll send you an additional nut/twat steamer for free (just pay an additional $29.99 to cover S&H).

          We’ll stick the antique-y looking ones in a Pier One or something and rake in the real money.

          Then we’ll license it to designers like Gucci and Prada.

          And I’ll happily chant authentic tribal gibberish into a microphone for an extra fifty bucks.

        • We’d need a long list of euphemisms for vagina in order to produce the infomercial. And a snappy name. That’s essential. “Snatch Steamer” could work.

          Don’t forget to lay down a nice drum beat over the vocals.

    • Irene Zion says:

      You may get rich, @Don, @Jeffrey, @David,
      but if you give such a thing to your wife or significant other,
      you can expect to have the boiling water bowl thrown at you.
      Just saying.

  6. Richard Cox says:

    Ah, David S. Wills. You crack me up, sir, on this holiest of repurposed pagan holidays. May your Asian farmland be irrigated by the searing sweat of a thousand Phoenix Suns.

  7. angela says:

    heh, fan death. that’s up there with drinking cold beverages causes stomach cancer or whatever it is Asians believe.

  8. Gloria says:

    Not that there’s anything wrong with being a hippy… I mean we they believe all kinds of pseudo-science – very similar to fan death. (WTF?) f

    I really like kimchi. It’s really good on tacos.

    Do they really make open crotch chairs? (“Steamed Clams” hahahahahahahahahahaha…)

    • Kimchi tacos, eh? Never tried that before.

      I’m not 100% sure about the open-crotch chairs. I think that’s the western compromise with this steamed clam business. Asian people are better at squatting. Westerners need chairs.

      • Gloria says:

        Well, kimchi used as garnish on tacos – like coleslaw. (Hey, I live in Portland where they put mangos in salsa.) You’d be surprised how good it actually is.

        • I’ll have to give it a try some day. Hell, I’ve had kimchi ice cream. It can’t be that bad.

        • Irene Zion says:


          Sorry I’m so late here, I’ve been pretty busy, but my kids used to take Kimchi sandwiches to school on Challah. I am not making that up.

          The thing I keep going back to is that a whole country thinks that fans are able to slice oxygen particles in the air, causing a sleeping person to suffocate?
          A whole country?
          Thank you so much for telling us that.
          I will laugh all 27 hours of my flights home, plus the 6 hours at the first airport, which, thankfully, has internet access.

        • Kimchi sandwiches? That’s something I never heard of. I actually do like kimchi, for all I joke about it, but a sandwich of the stuff would probably be a bit too much for me.

          Yes, it’s a whole country. And it’s not just the people – it’s the scientists. But then again, this is the country that claimed to have cloned a dog… only to later be proven to have faked the whole thing.

          Good luck with the travel. Or at least, have better luck than I would. You may cross paths with Amy. She’s on a 27 hour journey around the world right now. I have no idea where she is, though…

  9. Brian Eckert says:

    In my opinion, the success of Korea’s campaign to shed its image as a hokey, backwater also-ran world power hinges on its ability to embrace the rights of non-human animals and dispel the myth of fan death. Seriously, the more the international press gets a hold of that batshit crazy humdinger, the more Korea will be laughed back into its pre-G20 days.

    OK. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. But the idea of fan death still makes me want to beat sense into the entire nation.

    I used to enjoy Christmas in Asia, celebrating the holiday with other foreigners sans the commercial stampede.

    And you’re right, Asians really do have the squat down. I think they strengthen certain muscles from a young age that us Westerners would have to dedicate years of training to to match. My own squatting has improved notably, however. I often “pop a squat” at a party or while in public waiting in line or something, and people look at me like I’m an absolute freak.

    Good piece, man. It takes me back. Korea will always inhabit a special nook in my heart, much like an explosively bifurcated relationship with an ex girlfriend.

    • I reckon fan death is actually pretty indicative of Korea. I mean, the country is moving forward at an impressive pace but so much of their lives revolve around these insane little paranoid “quirks.” The whole “one blood” thing, for example. And their obsession with the imaginary health benefits of every day traditional foodstuff. Oh, and the Sea of Japan and Dokdo and the conspiracy of the world against them…

      Squatting is definitely something you need to pick up as a kid. I can do it for very short periods of time but you can’t compete with people who’ve spent their lives without chairs, training their leg muscles like that. I once watched a woman who was eight months pregnant sitting crossed legged… she stood up without even using her hands. Just pure leg muscle. It was terrifying.

  10. Matt says:

    Chopped oxygen? Steamed clams? Seriously?

    Oy. Makes my head hurt to think such stupidity exists in the world.

    • The chopped oxygen one is my favourite.

      • Matt says:

        Yes, the massive cultural notion that a cheap, industrial made fan is somehow capable of severing molecular bonds is pretty giggle-worthy.


        • Personally, I think that Korean men are such alcoholics that a lot of them simply die in their sleep. It’s a country where that would be considered shameful, and where finding the truth would be the morally responsible thing to do. Therefore, I reckon the whole fan death thing is a conspiracy to cover up the hundreds or thousands of guys who just drink themselves to death each year.

  11. Irene Zion says:


    One of my dogs is named Kimchee.
    Just FYI.
    Would you email me your newest address?
    The street one, please.
    Thank you kindly.

    • I know your dog’s name is Kimchee. I still have a photo of him at my parents house, or maybe it’s here in China. I don’t know. Anyway, I kept the Christmas card and it’s somewhere. And that’s one name I won’t forget. I’ll e-mail you my address later.

  12. Judy Prince says:

    David, I totally didn’t see that kimchi answer coming!

    I wore a permanent grin while reading this, and many of the virility-enhancers reminded me of those seriously imbibed in Taiwan, like the booze drunk from a big glass jar of bees soaking in alcohol, and blood drained from a vertically-slit and “milked” snake (the process—-and the men waiting for their glass of blood—-which we foreigners watched with a combo of muted hoots). That was before Viagra, a much less entertainingly-procured solution.

  13. James D. Irwin says:

    Must have missed this.

    I always want to laugh, but I’m to scarred. Korea sounds like a more nightmarish version of Blade Runner.

  14. In a land where content is king, one-eyed Korea is a fabulous gift in and of itself.

  15. D.R. Haney says:

    Yeah, Korea is the gift that keeps on giving. I giggled up a storm while reading this, and I love how the obviously phallic tentacles of octopi could be thought to produce a better boner, just as other cultures (including, maybe, Korea) have made a connection between potency and the horns of rhinos. I wonder if anyone ever touted bananas or sausages as dick medicine. But dog meat — that is baffling, unless Koreans view dogs the way dogs are seen in the American ghetto, as indiscriminately libidinous. And then there’s the expression “horndog,” and the out-of-date term “wolf,” which used to be applied to wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am types.

    • I have no idea where they get these things from. I think, though, that around here if someone says something it can pass for knowledge. Don’t question it; just do it. Like someone might say that a simple desk fan can chop oxygen molecules in half and suffocate you, and rather than conduct legitimate tests to question this theory, you’d say, “Well, someone said it so it must be true.” And that’s the reason for so much Korean “knowledge.”

      Or maybe they’re so into their hip-hop these days that they all wanna be dawgs.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        You know, David, with the ongoing disintegration of established and respectable news sources, I’m afraid the whole world is going to increasingly go the route of “Someone said it, so it must be true.” The tendency is already, and always, there, but we may be about to see a new spike of it in action in the West.

        • I suppose you’re right. It just amazes me that something someone said could be believed for so many years, and particularly something as ridiculous as “Hey, my boner was totally awesome after I hanged that dog and ate its balls.”

  16. […] Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s a link to my last post: “If Santa Was Korean.” […]

  17. those amazonian penis fishies sound familiar, like they are in the dialogue of a movie i have seen…they would be fun to let loose in the hite house swimming pool, if not for the chlorine…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *