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South Koreans fake their funerals for life lessons

Reuters|
Funerals for better lives
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Funerals for better lives

A South Korean service is offering free funerals - but only to the living. More than 25,000 people have participated in mass "living funeral" services at Hyowon Healing Center since it opened in 2012, hoping to improve their lives by simulating their deaths.

Reuters
Why a fake funeral?
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Why a fake funeral?

Dozens took part in the event, from teenagers to retirees, donning shrouds, taking funeral portraits, penning their last testaments, and lying in a closed coffin for around 10 minutes. "Once you become conscious of death, and experience it, you undertake a new approach to life," said 75-year-old Cho Jae-hee, who participated in a recent living funeral as part of a "dying well" programme offered by her senior welfare centre.

Reuters
'Better Life Index'
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'Better Life Index'

South Korea ranks 33 out of 40 countries surveyed in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Better Life Index. Many younger South Koreans have high hopes for education and employment, which have been dashed by a cooling economy and rising joblessness.

Getty Images
About suicide rate
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About suicide rate

In 2016, South Korea's suicide rate was 20.2 per 100,000 residents, almost double the global average of 10.53, according to the World Health Organization.

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How does it help?
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How does it help?

Funeral company Hyowon began offering the living funerals to help people appreciate their lives, and seek forgiveness and reconciliation with family and friends, said Jeong Yong-mun, who heads the healing centre. Jeong said he is heartened when people reconcile at a relative's funeral, but is saddened they wait that long. Occasionally he has dissuaded those contemplating suicide.

Reuters
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