Do you achieve everything you wanted to accomplish during each vacation? Maybe many of you make lots of plausible plans at first. But, was there anything you could not achieve because you postponed it to later? We say, “Damn! I will just do it tomorrow,” and postpone many things because we certainly think that we have tomorrow. But suppose that we die tonight and we have no tomorrows. If today is the last day of our lives, would it be possible that we ever do what we postponed and planned for tomorrow? As the saying goes there’s no order for dying, death is actually closer to us than we think. I would like to introduce this experience of death that leads to recognizing this fact. By experiencing death, you will be able to feel the importance of today.
Experience of death
Location: Hyowon healing center 4f Woosong Building 159, Yeongjung-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, Price: free
When you arrive at Hyowon Healing Center, after completing the application form, you get started with the experience of death by taking a portrait of the deceased. One by one, they take a picture in a chair and take a lecture by the director of the center, Chung Yong-moon, on the subject of death in a lecture room. After that, you will be given a print of the portrait and a will. Then, you will move to the experience of “death hall” through the dark stairs (the life beyond stairs). There are coffins for applicants to enter, shrouds to wear, and a desk to write a will. Then, you will be able to experience death in earnest.
1. Wearing a shroud
After being instructed on how to wear a shroud, you listen to an explanation about the shroud. The form of shroud that we know has been passed down since the Joseon Dynasty. Korea values respect for the dead. Therefore, they use high-end fabrics like silk. What's unique about this shroud is that it has no pockets because it means that both the poor and the rich can take nothing when they go to the next world.
2. Writing a will
You write basic information, such as the name, date of birth, family clan, funeral method and whether to donate the organs of your body. At the funeral, you write the name of the family clan representing your surname. For example, “Miryang Park sleeps here…” Then, you are free to write a will. While you are writing the will, the host randomly hands the microphone to the participants. Participants who receive a microphone read a will. Reading the will, there were many participants who wept with emotion or couldn’t keep going.
Now, everything is ready to enter the coffin. Open the lid of the coffin next to you and fold your arms and legs together and lie down inside. The host will close the lid. After that, they don't actually hammer a nail, but they knock on the coffin to make it seem more realistic. If you close your eyes, you feel like you are really dying, not just having a mere experience or activity. After about five minutes, the experience ends with opening the lid yourself, and you are reborn.
I have experienced death but I still don't understand what death is. But what is certain is that we are alive today and we can die tomorrow. There's a saying that ‘Today that you spent in vain is tomorrow wanted by the dead yesterday.’ We do not know when and where we might die, so what we can do is not postpone today’s work till tomorrow. In March, when the new semester begins, I hope you successfully implement your plans without any delay.
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