Forget the urn, or, if you’re a Lebowski lover, a coffee can, because South Koreans have come up with a novel, albeit rather odd way to keep your loved ones’ remains close to you.
Due, in part, to lack of space for the deceased, some South Koreans have taken to melting the ashes of their loved ones into decorative beads. The reason behind this stems from Confucian beliefs to respect the dead and visit their graves, combined with a recently launched pro-cremation campaign that requires the dead to be removed from their final resting places after sixty years. Guess it’s not so final then, huh?
These ashes-to-beads companies have sprung up around South Korea, and for one company, business has been steady. Bonhyang, owned by Bae Jae-yul, melts the ashes down using a special process he perfected before launching his company. The difference between his and other companies is the lack of minerals added to help bind the ashes together.
The beards can be produced in frequent colors, with some of the more popular ones being blue-green, pink, purple, and black. The process costs about $900.
This practice can be found in the United States, Europe, and Japan, but they don’t appear to have caught on like they did in South Korea. Some criticize the practice, thinking it to be nothing more than a means to make money while disrespecting the dead by preventing them from “returning to nature.”