Dying for better lives with funerals

Central Station | 7 Nov 2019

South Koreans are being offered free funerals, but people must be alive.

More than 25,000 people have participated in mass "living funeral" services at Seoul's Hyowon Healing Center since it opened in 2012, hoping to improve their lives.

"Once you become conscious of death and experience it you undertake a new approach to life," says 75-year-old Cho Jae Hee.

Cho was one of dozens who took part in a recent "dying well" event, from teenagers to retirees, donning shrouds, taking funeral portraits, penning last testaments and lying in a closed coffin for around 10 minutes.

University student Choi Jin Kyu, 28, says the coffin time helped him realize that too often he viewed others as competitors. "I wondered what use that is," he recalls.

Funeral firm Hyowon began offering the living funerals to help people appreciate their lives and seek reconciliation with family and friends.

Center chief Jeong Yong Mun is heartened when people reconcile at a funeral but is saddened they waited that long.


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