Backyard burials may be allowed

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Backyard burials may be allowed

As early as the latter half of 2013, you may be allowed to “naturally” bury your loved ones in your back - or even your front - yard.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday its comprehensive plans to expand burial facilities and sites include building 13 more cremation facilities from the current 55 by 2017 and expanding the kind of “natural burials” allowed.

Natural burials, which currently comprise 3 percent of all burials in the country, allow cremated remains in biodegradable containers to be buried 30 centimeters (12 inches) below trees or shrubs to decompose in the soil.

Because of a lack of burial space and other reasons including cost, cremations in Korea now account for seven in 10 funerals, up from 38 percent in 2001.

The ministry estimates that 80 percent of families will cremate their loved ones over the next five years.

New cremation facilities will be built in cities and counties without them already.

The ministry said that if its plan is approved by the National Assembly, you will be able to bury the cremated remains of relatives in various sites, including industrial districts and back or front yards of residences. Under current law, such burials are not allowed.

But they are considered “greener” options compared to traditional burials, which treat bodies with chemicals and place them in metal coffins.

The ministry is limiting the construction of new cemeteries and cracking down on customs that increase the prices of funeral and burial rites and coffins.

By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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