Believe It or Not!
About a decade ago, it was very customary for the family of the deceased to mourn their loved ones at a grave site inside a cemetery. About every 6 out of 10 people would be buried. Doing so was to be in line with the Confucian practices of paying respect to their dead ancestors. Today however, the landscape has dramatically changed and South Koreans are skipping burials and going for the cremation-to-beads deal. As a result of changes in traditional South Korean beliefs, more and more people are choosing to have their cremated loved-ones’ ashes turned into decorative beads they can keep around.
In a heavily populated country like South Korea, finding open real estate can be a bit of a problem. So as a ‘fix’ South Korea’s government pushed an aggressive campaign against burials and promoted cremation through radio advertising, press statements and pamphlets. The campaign was a success and culminated with a law being passed in 2000.
The law states that anyone who choses to bury their dead must remove the grave after 60 years! As you can imagine, as a large result of these facts, only 3 out of 10 Koreans were buried last year.
Since then, new types of funeral services have increasingly become more popular. For instance, South Korean company Bonhyang, has jumped on board of this new shift in beliefs. They use very high temperatures to melt the ashes until they crystallize and can then be shaped into beads, during a 90-minute process. Doing so will make the remains clean and will prevent it from smelling bad or developing mold. People can take their loved ones beads anywhere and Bonhyang would most frequently produce them in a blue-green, pink, purple or black color – of which are all currently in demand. Typically, human remains will garner about four to five cups of beads, although the ashes of young people have a higher bone density that can yield up to eight cups of beads – enough to keep close and have a vile for the house, car or your pocket!