Woman in South Korea found dead after sleeping inside coffin in 'spiritual ritual'

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A woman in her 40s was found dead in South Korea, reportedly after sleeping in a coffin as part of a spiritual ritual, regional police have said.

The woman's body was found inside a wooden coffin at about 6.30am last Friday (July 27) at a studio apartment in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province. The cause for her death may be suffocation or heat-related given the ongoing heat wave, according to police.

Police believe the woman participated in a religious ritual aimed at bringing good fortune by "getting rid of the bad spirits", along with two other female acquaintances. It is believed the woman first got inside the coffin at 8pm last Thursday.

According to the two other participants in the ritual, the woman initially got out of the coffin after spending two hours in it, saying she could not breathe inside.

She went back into the coffin after the others encouraged her to keep going. She fell asleep while the other two women slept near the coffin. It is unclear why the ritual required only one of the three participants to sleep inside the coffin.

When the other participants woke up in the morning and opened the coffin, they discovered the woman had died.

Police said an autopsy is to be performed on Saturday (Aug 4). The authorities will also decide whether to charge the two acquaintances with negligence.