A.T. Still University School of
Osteopathic Medicine ‘21
On my second day at Jaseng Hospital, I had the opportunity to volunteer with my colleagues at the Seoul National Cemetery. The cemetery is home to 165,000 martyrs and soldiers, police officers, and reserve forces who have died fighting for their country. I learned that only those who served were invited to be buried at this site and that it was an honor to be buried here. Every year on Korea’s memorial day – June 6th, services and events are held at the cemetery to honor the brave patriots who fought for the country. As volunteers, we were tasked to dispose of old flowers and weeds by the tombstones to ensure each area was impeccable.
We met early in the morning in Jaseng’s Hospital lobby where we were greeted with cups of coffee and an official “Jaseng Volunteer Team” vest. After attendance was taken, we were lead to board a bus to our destination. When we arrived at the cemetery, I was amazed by its vast size and beauty.
Before going off to our assigned lot, we observed a tribute service where we walked up to the main gate. At the front of the gate incense was burned to and we bowed to pay our respects.
Lining up to pay our respects
Afterwards we were let to our lot. From afar the burial ground was orderly and calming – the architectural perfectionism is adamant from the coordinated the space of each plot. When we arrived to our assigned lot to clean, I was a bit confused on what there was to clean as the area was unblemished as is. Nevertheless we put on a double layer of gloves and were equipped with plastic bags for any trash,weeds, or dead flowers we may find. Each tombstone was a simple stone, each carved with the fallen individual’s name. Each site included a small vase of artificial flowers. Some stones were accompanied with a plaque – usually commemorated by the family.
Cemetery clean up in action
It only about an hour for our volunteer team to clean up the lot we were assigned. I definitely was put to work – who knew my gardening skills would come in handy. After the clean up, we were escorted to the cafeteria on site, a short walk from the main building of the cemetery. Despite it being a little early for lunch, the morning’s activities made us hungry for the ttukbaegi bulgogi that was served.