Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Where will the dead go?

From the Joongang Ilbo:

Grave Days on the Horizon

By the end of this year, we will run out of space
for graves in both Seoul and Daejeon. By the year
2012, most of the nation's other cities and
provinces will experience a similar problem. Not
a single city or province has any plans to allot more
space for burial grounds. As it becomes increasingly
difficult to hold on to our traditional burial culture,
it is time to explore fundamental alternatives. ...

...nowadays a considerable number of people are
choosing cremation as an alternative.

Firstly, I'm not sure what 'space' they are talking about. I guess they are describing cemeteries but enterprising Koreans have known for years that cemeteries are only one option with the slopes of Gwanak and other mountains being other legitimate choices.

In fact, I am extrapolating. When teaching an adult student in Masan, Gyeongsangnam Province, I learned that while burying a body on the slopes of Muhak (the local mountain) is illegal, once it is done, the police don't have the right to dig it back up. If you do it without being caught, the body can stay. Having seen Muhak and other mountains randomly dotted with graves, I think this is true at least in practice, even if the laws themselves are not exactly as I've described.

My in-laws ancestors were laid to rest amongst their persimmon orchards and I don't actually know of any proper cemeteries in the area. We'll be paying them a visit next week so perhaps I will ask around if I can do so without sounding too ghoulish.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

all cemetaries are located on the mountain in korea. and have to buy,the price of land usually very high, decent family has own family graveyard mountain. the cheapest one is religious public cemetaries, use small land like western's.