Around this time of year, hundreds of thousands of people in South Korea visit their family graves to pull up any weeds and cut the grass.
This tradition, called beolcho, is how Koreans show their ancestors that they haven’t forgotten about them.
(STANDUP) Ed: Steve
“The way people practice this important Chuseok tradition is a little bit different this year. To reduce the chance of spreading the virus from large gatherings, some people are looking for help from agency services.”
Earlier in September, the health authorities designated Chuseok as a ‘special virus prevention period’ and urged people to avoid large gatherings.
They asked individuals to hire weed agency services to tidy up ancestors’ graves.
“The use of weed agency services has increased by more than 30-percent due to COVID-19 this year. At a time when it’s difficult to move between regions, we are helping families by cleaning up their graves.”
This agency service said they normally start taking reservations three weeks before the holiday.
The agency said that in Yeoju city, before the COVID-19 pandemic, they would have about 200 reservations, but now they have received more than 300 reservations– a nearly 50-percent jump.
One of the customers shared his experience of using the service for the first time.
(KOREAN- ) ‘Phone Interview’
“We usually go to restaurants after tidying up the graves with the family together, but we wanted to avoid a large gathering this year. That’s why we decided to hire the agency to clean our family graves.”
To prevent the spread of the virus, the government also urged people to practice other Chuseok traditions online instead such as taking an online service to thank their ancestors instead of visiting their graves.
Choi Won-jong, Arirang News.