Sunday, April 3, 2011

Increasing Number of Korean Parents Reborn as Grandchildren

According to figures released by Statistics Korea this week, research shows that an increasing number of Buddhist parents who die before their children give birth are being reincarnated as their own grandchildren in South Korea, possibly due to the difficult economy.

The issue is causing growing unease among prospective parents with deceased mothers or fathers, as it raises awkward questions in Korea's strictly hierarchical society.

50 year-old Professor Kim of Seoul International University's Psychology Department said that such reincarnations led to problems in raising the children, since many Koreans whose parents have been reborn as their children are reluctant to openly admonish them for any of their mistakes. "Even the choice of words is problematic – normally parents would speak to their children in a plain form of the Korean language, but their own parents should be spoken to in a politer form. When a situation arises where those parents have been reborn as a person's children, there just aren't any guidelines on how they should be spoken to or dealt with." The government has said it is looking into drawing up guidelines.

Seoul resident 32 year-old Kim told us of the difficulty of discovering from a Buddhist fortune teller that her baby daughter had in fact the reborn soul of her mother who passed away two years ago. "I really don't know how to deal with her... she often screams, sulks, has temper tantrums and refuses to be reasoned with. In many ways she hasn't changed at all."