Funeral Industry News

Cremation Rate Exceeded Record 60 Percent in Korea

December 3, 2009

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Cremation Rate Exceeded Record 60 Percent in Korea

imageMore than 60 percent of the dead were cremated last year, a record high in Korea, the Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Ministry said yesterday.

Cremation accounted for how 61.9 percent of corpses were disposed of last year, up from 58.9 percent in 2007. The rate had remained below 20 percent until the early 1990s.

Koreans had held a strongly negative sentiment over cremation due to the prevailing Confucian culture in the country. Confucianism teaches that paying tribute to ancestors at their tombs on traditional holidays is the responsibility of their children.

Public perceptions have changed with the introduction of modern and more elegant resting facilities for remains en masse, and burial costs more than other methods.

The ministry anticipates cremation will exceed the 70-percent mark over the next two years.

Though the cremation ratio was high overall, it differed greatly among regions. Eighty percent of corpses in Busan were cremated, the highest rate in the country. The corresponding figure was 77.9 percent in Incheon, 72.4 percent in Ulsan, and 72.2 percent in Seoul.

In contrast, the cremation rate was 39.2 percent in South Jeolla Province and 40.6 percent in South Chungcheong Province, the lowest in the country.

The ministry plans to deregulate use of enshrinement facilities run by provincial governments to further promote cremation. Fifty-four of 115 such facilities are barred from use by people who do not reside in a given region.