In South Korea, Human Ashes Become ... Beads

South Korea firm turns human ashes into pretty beads
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2012 8:44 AM CST
In this Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011 photo, Kim Il-nam, a retired high school principal, displays beads made from his father's ashes during an interview in Icheon, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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(Newser) – South Korea, with its Confucian heritage, has long honored the dead, but these days there's little space for outdoor burials and many people find the thought of stowing a loved-one's ashes in an urn distasteful. That's where a company called Bonhyang comes in: It transforms the ashes of the deceased into decorative bluish beads, reports the LA Times. The beads can then be kept in pretty containers and put on display.

More than 1,000 customers have paid the $900 each for the controversial process, which grinds the deceased's ashes even finer, then heats them and shapes them into beads. Critics say that the process dishonors the dead, but Bonhyang's CEO insists that the beads are a beautiful way to remember a loved one. "They're very beautiful to look at," he says. "You don't feel that these beads are creepy or scary. In fact, there's a holiness and warmth to them."

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