Cremation rate in South Korea rises to 87.7%

Posted on : 2017-12-10 10:46 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
New cremation furnaces are needed in Gyeonggi Province and Busan to deal with shortages
Annual Cremation Rate in South Korea
Annual Cremation Rate in South Korea

Statistics show 87.7% of South Koreans who died last year were cremated. With the cremation rate steadily increasing, the figure also showed a need for additional cremation furnaces in Gyeonggi Province and Busan, which are currently suffering shortages.

Figures released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) on Dec. 7 showed an 82.7% cremation rate for 2016, up 1.9 percentage points from 2015. The rate has increased steadily in recent year, more than quadrupling from 20.5% when statistics were first kept in 1994.

Patterns differed according to age group and region, with cremation used in 97.7% of cases involving people in their twenties and 79.8% of cases involving people in their sixties or older. Busan had the highest rate for any metropolitan city or province at 92.0%, followed by Incheon at 91.2%, Ulsan at 90.2%, and South Gyeongsang Province at 88.9%. The lowest rate was in Jeju at 67.7%, followed by South Chungcheong Province at 68.2%, North Gyeongsang Province at 71.2%, and North Chungcheong Province at 71.4%.

Among individual cities, counties, and districts, Tongyang, South Gyeongsang, had the highest cremation rate at 95.4%, followed by Sacheon, South Gyeongsang, at 94.9% and Busan’s Saha district at 93.7%. The lowest rate was in South Chungcheong’s Cheongyang County at 41.1%, followed by Yecheon County, North Gyeongsang, at 46.8%; Jangheung County, South Jeolla, at 50.8%; and Yeongyang County, North Gyeongsang, at 53.%.

A total of 59 cremation facilities are currently operating in South Korea, with a maximum capacity of 306,720 cremations per year. While this was enough to generally accommodate the 232,128 total cremations in South Korea last year, demand was particularly high in Seoul, Busan, and Gyeonggi. In Gyeonggi, total cremations outnumbered the province’s maximum capacity by 13,508. Busan and Seoul exceeded capacity by 4,276 and 3,547 cremations, respectively.

“There will need to be an expansion in facilities and other preparations not only in regions where furnaces are currently falling short of cremation demand, but also in places like North and South Jeolla where the cremation rate has risen rapidly in recent years,” an MOHW official said.

By Park Ki-yong, staff reporter

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