Leaving a funeral without shedding a tear is enough to make anyone think they’re heartless. After all, celebrating a lost loved one and confronting death with a shovel is emotionally exhausting. Well, in South Korea, people are starting to take a different approach to funerals.
South Koreans have found a strangely morbid — and fresh — way to approach burials and ceremonies. And while the reason behind the process is sound, people across the world can’t help but dismiss the way Koreans are grappling with the idea of the end…
Are you in the market for a free funeral? Well South Korea’s Hyowon Healing Center offers them, complete with wooden coffins. They’re not exactly conventional, though. They’re only for the living.
Since 2012, the Seoul-based wellness center has been offering these free services, which are fittingly called “living funerals.” But at these unusually lively remembrance ceremonies, you wouldn’t be the only guest of honor.
They’re mass services, as they honor the (ongoing) lives of several people at once. All together, more than 15,000 people have partaken in these ceremonies, all united with one similar purpose.
“Once you become conscious of death, and experience it, you undertake a new approach to life,” said 75-year-old living funeral honoree Cho Jae-hee. As an elder, Cho participated as part of a “dying well” program, which, we must say, is shockingly blunt.
But not all living funeral guests of honor are oldies; pimply teens, exhausted retirees, and everyone in between have succumbed to the inevitable final chapter for a day. Mortality really finds ways to haunt us all.
With their anticipation to pose for gloomy funeral portraits, announce their final wishes, or act out death in cozy, wooden coffins, these entombment ceremony honorees wished to accept the concept of death with open arms to grapple with the struggles of life. The effects are interesting.
University student Choi Jin-kyu was always one to compare himself to others, viewing them as competition. But when he viewed the world from the inside of a dark coffin, he realized just how stifling that mindset was.
“When I was in the coffin, I wondered what use that is,” the 28-year-old scholar explained. To counter his unproductive competitive nature, he relayed that he planned to start his own business after graduation. Though inspiring, how does this relate to the notion of mortality?