Samsung, Hyundai Curb Worker Suicides by Having Them Mimic Their Own Deaths

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Samsung, Hyundai Curb Worker Suicides by Having Them Mimic Their Own Deaths

Suicide is a big problem in South Korea. According to the Financial Times, the compact peninsula has the highest rate of suicide in the developed world: 24.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

It’s become such a problem that employers are sending workers to “well-dying” courses to prevent suicides. During the courses, employees go through the arduous process of faking their own deaths.

Fake funeral training has become so popular that major companies like Samsung have built their own funeral training centers.
Hyundai, another large employer, regularly sends employees to “well-dying” training.

Via the Financial Times:

South Korean companies are sending employees on ‘fake funeral’ courses to help prevent suicide. Participants sit at candlelit desks and are told to write their last will and testament. Attendees are prompted by questions such as: “If you died today, what would you tell your family”? Many of those in the room become emotional as they read out their wills.

Before they are “buried”, participants are asked to pose for their funeral portrait. Participants (then) enter a “death experience room” where they choose a coffin and put on a “death robe.” Course members get into their coffins and a flower is laid on each person’s chest. Funeral attendants place a lid on the coffin and dirt is thrown on the casket. Participants are left in the closed casket for five minutes and some start to cry in the darkness. Once the lids are opened the resurrected trainees are asked how they felt.

As someone who’s 99% ignorant of Korean culture, this strikes me as harsh. Is giving someone a reason not to die the same as giving them reason to live? Then again, it does seem to be working: Why else would Samsung have built a permanent funeral training center?


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About The Author
Drea Knufken
Drea Knufken
Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.
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  • July 22, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    I too know nothing about the culture. BUT…If this worked so well they wouldn’t lead the world in suicides! Maybe providing a little work/life balance will keep your people from wanting to swallow a handful of Oxycontin!

  • Ed
    July 22, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    They’re doing this AS A RESPONSE TO the high rate of suicide.

  • July 22, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Maybe thinking about their death makes them think about what’s important, and what reasons they have to live. Or maybe they realize how sad people would be if they died.

    Just guesses. It does seem like a backwards program.

  • Chloe
    July 22, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    For the depressed susceptible to suicide, this is a catharsis and is healing for them. It will stave off suicide, but I don’t think it cures depression. It may prompt the suicidal to seek treatment.

  • S
    July 22, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    As someone who came very close to suicide at one point in my life, I think this is an excellent idea. One of the hallmarks of suicidal thinking is that you are not thinking rationally, and you are not thinking about anything except the pain you are feeling at this moment. Anything that gets a person to really think about the reality of a suicide – what they will be missing, what they will put their friends and family through, how they really feel about the idea of death – anything that can do that is a powerful intervention.

  • kiznacht
    July 22, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    it’s a good idea. finally a mainstream group chooses / is forced to do something about a problem no one wants to look at! i know 0 about s. korea, but in the u.s., i know my boss would be like, i _knew_ i shouldn’t have bought that stock!! everyone with assets should have a Will anyway. people do this on their own, it’s called goth / local art.

  • kiznacht
    July 22, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    ps. can we get some help for the Iraq War vets who are offing themselves in DROVES please? thanks

  • July 22, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks Ed but you couldn’t have missed my point more.

  • Ashley
    July 23, 2008 at 12:11 am

    Uh no, Robert your statement was a logical fallacy. This training has recently been implemented, and is limited to specific corporations. It has nothing to do with whether or not South Korea leads the world in suicides. That was already determined BEFORE this training was implemented. Even if everyone who took this course didn’t commit suicide (which would be a ridiculously high success rate) it would take a long time before the effects were dispersed throughout the culture.

  • July 23, 2008 at 8:41 am


    That wasn’t my point. The point to my post is that the culture demands high success rates in school, at work, in marriages, and it forsakes the will of the idnividual.

    But back to your comment that it has “recently been implemented” and is “limited to specific corporations”, I ask that you re-read the following from the story; “Fake funeral training has become so popular that major companies like Samsung have built their own funeral training centers. Hyundai, another large employer, regularly sends employees to “well-dying” training.”

    This would indicate to me, that it did not start with these companies, but that there was already significant exposure to this form of therapy among those seeking help from suicidal tendencies right?

  • Drea
    July 23, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Ashley and Robert–I’m not sure who started well-dying programs, or how they started. Certainly the suicide rate was the initial problem. What happened after that is a mystery. I wish I could find it online.

    kiz–second you on the Iraq vets–BIG problem, and tragic.

    S–thanks for sharing your experience. I can really see what you mean.

    Eng, Chloe–thanks for your comments!

  • Jan
    July 26, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Chilling but interesting idea.

    Someone our daughter worked with committed suicide earlier this year. She wanted everyone to wear Hawaiian garb at her wake and funeral, acting, I guess, like she was just going off on a cruise. There she lay in her casket in Hawaiian gear with a lei around her neck and in her hair. My protest? To wear regular funeral clothes…she was dead, of her own hand…not vacationing. I stood at the back of the room for a moment before leaving and looked at all those people crying in Hawaiian garb, flowery sloped shoulders, bodies visibly shaking. The joyous bon voyage she imagined? NOT! It was a crowd in – of course – great distress that will follow them for, in many cases, the rest of their own lives. I wish she had gotten the help she needed before she ended her allotted days. There are so many wonderful things she could have brought to life…hers and others’…as is the case for anyone.

  • Tungsten
    October 5, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    If you’re dead, you don’t have to contemplate those things

  • rrrrrrrr
    October 7, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Maybe if they didn’t breed like Rabbits and reduced the population to a normal level per land then they wouldn’t feel so isolated and alone. Less people = more interaction. The loneliest places on Earth are the most populated.

    Instead of making their workers go through faux deaths, the corporations and government should treat their workers and people less like an expendable work force and more like human beings.

    Probably won’t happen though; they are occupied by the most heartless country in the world. You s of A is number one country, yes!

  • TimC
    February 18, 2012 at 10:13 am

    these Companies should attempt to improve working conditions and time off as well as rewards and such.. make work not slaves.

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