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Seoul to open 'tree burial' site for its citizens

All Headlines 11:35 April 05, 2011

SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) -- The Seoul metropolitan government said Tuesday that it will open a city-run site this month for "tree burials" in which the cremated remains of the deceased are buried at the foot of a tree, to promote the new burial culture among its citizens.

Tree burials are drawing popularity as a new method of natural burial that can make efficient use of the national territory, but most of the nation's tree burial sites are run illegally due to tough regulations.

The park that the city plans to open is built on 14,710 square meters of land in Paju, a city about 50 kilometers northwest of Seoul, and has a burial capacity of 3,065 sets of cremated remains, the metropolitan government said.

Seoul citizens as well as residents of Paju and Goyang, a city located between Seoul and Paju, can use the space, it added. Seoul is home to about 10 million people.

"Cemeteries account for about 1 percent of the national territory. We set up the tree burial site for the efficient use of the land," a city official said, requesting not to be named.

People bury the ashes of the deceased in soil around trees or among plants and let them recycle naturally. No headstone or artificial decorations are used in the natural burial method, to preserve the environment.

The municipal government said citizens can use the site for up to 40 years with a payment of 500,000 won (US$460) and attach a small name tag on a tree trunk if they want.

The state forestry agency opened a natural burial site in Gyeonggi Province for the first time in 2009, and over 1,100 sets of ashes of the deceased were buried there as of September 2010.

According to data released by the health ministry, some 150,000 out of 240,000 people in South Korea who died in 2009 were cremated.

brk@yna.co.kr
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