Friday, June 20, 2008

Experiencing a Korean death...


One of the 5th grade teachers at my school... her mother passed away after battling with lung cancer for about a year.

I went to pay my respect after school yesterday. My friend, who is the school librarian and I traveled to Incheon... maybe just under an hour away. We walked for quite a distance till we got to the memorial building near a church.

My friend collected a white envelope from an office-looking room when we entered, and she put some cash inside. And then we walked down a passage, looking for the deceased's family. Inside this room was a photograph of the deceased, with many flowers surrounding it. Her husband and son were standing next to it as people offered their condolences. Afterwards, they would kneel and bow to the photograph.

My teacher friend told me to put a white rose next to the photograph and say a prayer. In the same room, there was a man sitting behind a desk collecting envelopes with cash and making a note of it in a book.

After paying our respect, we were led to another room across the passage where tables were set with food and drink for the mourners to have.

Today, some Korean teachers at my school told me that funeral services only take place 3 days after the person has died. Why? I asked... well, before... in the olden days, after a person was declared 'dead' ... they would suddenly be alive again after a day or... 2?!!! Maybe they were just sleeping?!!!! So now, it is Korean law that the funeral only takes place 3 days after the person has died!

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