Learn how to die in South Korea, 2015
With 39 suicides committed every day, South Korea holds a sad record in the world. Seniors commit suicide four times more in South Korea than in the other OECD countries. The reason seems to be a new kind of loneliness and a falling social care system that increase the isolation and the precariousness of the elderly population.
In only few decades, South Korea moved from one of the poorest countries in the world to the 13th economic power. Behind this swiftly propel into modernity, that moved South Korea towards an ultra-competitive society, many Koreans had forgot to build their own identity and complies more in an individualism way of life. For example, less than a third of the population finds it normal to help their forefathers, according to a recent survey by the National Statistics Office. Due to this new society going, more and more people are attracted by ceremonies simulating funerals in order to remind themselves the sense of life. In Seoul, at the Hyowon Healing Centre, no less than thirty people, with varied profiles, came to confront themselves to the experience of death that day: from the young teenager who came of his own free will, to the couple trying to overcome their difficulties, to the companies that organize funeral seminars for their employees.
The simulation follows a strict protocol. In the middle of the aligned coffins, a master of ceremony explains, with a very well-oiled speech, that problems we have to cope with in our daily lives are part of life, and that we must accept them with joy. Then, participants had their “funeral portrait” taken, before to put on a traditional dress and wrote their testaments and farewell letters to their relatives. People are crying their eyes out, and some of them testify of their destructive selfishness. Once in front of their coffins, participants express their last vows. The fateful hour came: an « angel of death » arrives and closes up the coffins, at the light of the candles, to offer a 10 minutes death experience.