Social Obligations at a Korean Funeral

After living in Korea for 7 months now, I attended my first Korean funeral.

Wednesday 10AM: my husband Evan gets a text message in his work Kakao Chat, announcing that on of the colleague’s father in law has died earlier that day. The funeral was going to take place at 7PM the same day. As nor me nor Evam have ever met the colleague’s father in law we didn’t feel like we need to attend the funeral. But soon it was soon made clear to us in the group chat that we didn’t have an excuse not to attend the funeral.

So that’s decided then, cancel all our plans we had for the evening to attend the funeral of a man we have never met or hear of.

As we met another colleague before entering the funeral center, on of his colleagues asked us how much money we’re giving. We “the unaware couple” brought nice white flowers, and didn’t expect we had to give money for a funeral. But man were we wrong, apparently you give minimum 50 000 Korean won (40 Euro).

And ofcourse the funeral centre is prepared for this, once you enter you will find a desk with empty envelopes you can use.

Korean Funeral

Korean Funeral

When entering the funeral room, the Korean family, that we also never met before, were all lined up next to the picture of the deceased, lots of flowers and the box to donate your condolence money. So that’s what we did, bow 2 times, put our flowers next to the picture and our envelope in the box.

After that, food and drinks are provided and everyone comes together to eat. The food included pork belly, soup, rice, rice cakes, watermelon, nuts and shark.

It was definitely an experience and a culture shock, I learned another thing about a Korean funeral and Korean culture…

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