Woman suffocates in coffin during ‘pseudo religious’ ceremony
A South Korean woman who was meant to be sleeping in a coffin as part of a spiritual ritual intended to bring her good fortune was found dead after suffocating in the sealed casket.
The woman, who has not been identified but was reportedly in her 40s, was taking part in a theraputic ceremony of what police described as a ‘pseudo religion’.
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The ritual took place overnight and required three women to sleep in wooden coffins, under the belief that spending the night enclosed in the boxes would rid them of bad spirits and ensure they had better luck in the future.
The women got into the coffins at around 8pm on Thursday, in an apartment in the the city of Gumi, in the central region of South Korea, local police told the Yonhap news agency.
The two survivors told police that the woman who died tried to get out of her coffin after about two hours, complaining that she could not breathe and that it was too hot. She was convinced to carry on with the rite by her friends, who told her to endure the discomfort.
At around 6.30am the following morning, one of the other women woke and lifted the lids of the coffins to find one of her friends sleeping soundly but the other woman dead.
A police officer investigating the case told The Korea Times that the coffin was airtight and that the woman had apparently not noticed before she suffocated.
Investigators also said the women were members of a “pseudo religion”, one of a remarkable number of such cults that have popped up in South Korea in recent years promising to solve all sorts of personal, spiritual or financial problems through unconventional forms of worship.
Police said that an autopsy would be carried out but the results have not yet been released. An official said that the extreme heat affecting the entire Korean Peninsula in recent weeks – daytime temperatures have been hovering around 40C and nights only a few degrees cooler – may have contributed to the woman’s death.