Jung, a slight 39-year-old with an undertaker's blue suit and a
preacher's demeanor, is a resolute counselor on the ever-after who
welcomes clients with the invitation, "OK, today let's get close to
Jung runs a seminar called the Coffin Academy, where,
for $25 each, South Koreans can get a glimpse into the abyss. Over four
hours, groups of a dozen or more tearfully write their letters of
goodbye and tombstone epitaphs. Finally, they attend their own funerals
and try the coffin on for size.
In a candle-lighted chapel, each
climbs into one of the austere wooden caskets laid side by side on the
floor. Lying face up, their arms crossed over their chests, they close
their eyes. And there they rest, for 10 excruciating minutes.
a way to let go of certain things," says Jung, a former insurance
company lecturer. "Afterward, you feel refreshed. You're ready to start
your life all over again, this time with a clean slate."
South Korea, a few entrepreneurs are conducting controversial forums
designed to teach clients how to better appreciate life by simulating
death. Equal parts Vincent Price and Dale Carnegie, they use mortality
as a personal motivator for a variety of behaviors, from a healthier
attitude toward work to getting along with family members.
firms here see the sessions as an inventive way to stimulate
productivity. The Kyobo insurance company, for example, has required
all 4,000 of its employees to attend fake funerals like those offered