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Living Funerals: A New Trend in South Korea

Robert Hoetink / Shutterstock

A pretend funeral can be useful if it helps to delay a real one.

Funerals are traditionally an opportunity for the living to mourn and celebrate the dead. In South Korea, however, some are seeing a therapeutic value in conducting a funeral while a person is still living.

At these “living funerals,” participants pretend to have died and then, while lying in coffins, contemplate the impact their deaths would have on others.


Click the photo at right to see unique and unusual funerals.


The goal of these mock funerals is to give people an experience that changes the thought patterns they have about their own deaths. Suicide rates in South Korea are exceptionally high for the industrialized world, and suicide is now the top cause of death for people between 10 and 39 years of age. Societal pressures to succeed in school and business in the highly competitive nation are thought to be contributing factors.

In response to the high suicide rate, some businesses are even sponsoring living funerals for employees.

As unusual as this particular approach may sound, people worldwide can agree it's important to continue exploring creative treatments for depression and mood disorders. A pretend funeral can be useful if it helps to delay a real one.


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