Times are changing in South Korea and cremation is on the rise, space and cost being two of the main factors. And so are traditions in the way people are memorialising.
One option is to have the cremation ashes turned into beads. I quite like this idea. Instead of an urn filled with ashes or some jewellery containing a little sprinkle you can have all the ashes returned to you in a more aesthetically pleasing bead form.
The company called Bonhyang (Ashes-to-beads) are base in Seoul. The company takes the ashes, cleans them, refines them into a fine powder and then heats them to ultra high temperatures. The process reduces the ashes to a molten state then they the solidify into crystals. On average, the ashes of one body will produce up to 5 cups of beads.
The whole process takes about 90 minutes and costs about US$1,200 (£800).
The founder and owner Mr Bae Jae-yul started the business 13 years and has since served more than a thousand people. “These beads cannot become mouldy, and insects cannot grow in them. You can keep your loved ones in a beautiful and clean state forever and beside you,” said Mr Bae.
He went onto say “There are churches that are using our method now. They lease our machines. And the church turns all ashes into beads and keeps them at its mausoleum,” [I am quite surprised by that, I wonder if this is a translation issue?]
One of Mr Bae Jae-yul’s customers said “They don’t look disgusting. It feels good to see them when I open my eyes in the morning or go to bed. I admit I wasn’t sure at first if this was a good idea. But when I saw the beads I was impressed. They are beautiful, clean and there’s no smell,”. He added that it is comforting to see his mother in this form – like precious stones – rather than ashes.
If anyone brings to process to the UK I will let you know…