The experience economy… extended to the death

July 25, 2008

We know that many consumers are increasing looking for special experiences and thrills. But I was really suprised to read that in Korea you can experience what it would be to die… These ‘well-dying’ courses are to “encourage them to assess their priorities in life and as a suicide prevention measure” according the Financial Times.

“…Will completed, they collect their funeral portraits – participants are asked to pose on the way in – and enter the “death experience room”, a large, dark space containing a series of open coffins and decorated with posters of famous bygones such as Ronald Reagan, Diana, Princess of Wales, and Lee Byung-chull, Samsung’s founder. In front of an altar covered with flowers and his funeral portrait, Mr Ko instructs his trainees to choose a coffin, put on a traditional hemp death robe and then read out their wills one-by-one. Next, it is time to be buried. Participants lie down in their coffins, while a man wearing the outfit of a traditional Korean death messenger places a flower on each person’s chest. Funeral attendants place lids on the coffins, banging each corner several times with a mallet. Dirt is thrown down on the lid, as loud as stones on a tile roof. The attendants leave the hall for five minutes – but it seemed like 30 minutes to those taking part…”

About 50,000 people have taken part since 2004. There are even large corporates that send their staff to these cources. Those who completed the course “…become more considerate and attach greater value to life…” according to the report.

How about sending reckless drivers or work-aholic managers to a course like this? Or setting up a course in prison life for would-be criminals (did I hear ‘guantanamo bay’ adventure land for derailed presidents)? This could be a huge market opportunity!