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'Shocking truth' behind Taiwan's High-Heel Church revealed

American YouTuber reveals dark history behind Chiayi's High-Heel Wedding Church

(YouTube, EconomyClass screenshot)

(YouTube, EconomyClass screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An American YouTuber on Saturday (Oct. 30) revealed the tragic origin of Chiayi's famous High-Heel Wedding Church.

To coincide with Halloween, a YouTuber who goes by the handle EconomyClass uploaded a video that told the dark tale behind the High-Heel Wedding Church (高跟鞋教堂). The glass edifice was completed in Chiayi County's Budai Township in 2016, when it was certified by the Guinness World Records as the world's largest high-heel shoe-shaped structure.

The structure is 17.76 meters in height and is made of over 300 panels of blue-tinted glass. The YouTuber pointed out that the giant shoe is not actually a consecrated church and is mainly used as an Instagram background for newlyweds and tourists.

He said that tourist brochures state that the building was constructed to honor a local woman surnamed Wang who was stricken by blackfoot disease at the age of 24 in the 1960s. The disease ravaged her legs, both of which had to be amputated, causing her wedding to be canceled. As the legend goes, she never wed and spent the rest of her life in a church.

According to the YouTuber, blackfoot disease afflicted many people in Budai Township and coastal areas of Chaiyi County in the 1950s and 60s. He explained that there had been a drinking water shortage during an extended drought and local residents dug very deep wells that would ensure a steady supply of water.

However, some of the drills reached a naturally occurring deposit of arsenic in the bedrock. Consuming water with high levels of arsenic is known to cause severe disease in the blood vessels in the feet and legs, ultimately leading to gangrene, thus the name blackfoot disease.

In the case of the residents, trace amounts of the toxin gradually accumulated in their bodies. By the time authorities began to detect the poison in the water, there were already many cases of the disease in the area.

In severe cases, the only option to save a patient's life is to amputate their feet or even legs. The YouTuber observed that although the monument is meant to commemorate a woman who contracted the disease, many more men than women suffered from the affliction.

A study carried out in the 1960s had found that 275 men had died from the disease, while 182 women had perished. This means that 51% more men than women died from the ailment.

He pointed out that there are no monuments or memorials for the men who died from arsenic poisoning. Taking a jab at those who initially accused the monument of being sexist towards women, he argued that the monument is indeed sexist "in the sense that it ignores the much greater amount of suffering endured by men in the community."

The YouTuber then joked that he would set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to build a huge glass Air Jordan basketball shoe to memorialize all the men who had contracted the disease.