Kim Dae-Jung's masked entourage.
August 24, 2009 11:19 AM   Subscribe

I know former S. Korean president Kim Dae-Jung died of pneumonia -- does that account for the surgical masks worn by the pallbearers or is there something more to it?
posted by Ogre Lawless to Society & Culture (5 answers total)
I actually think it's a swine flu thing more than anything -- worry about H1N1 is still around in Korea, talked about in the media, etc.
posted by suedehead at 11:51 AM on August 24, 2009

Yes, but it's odd that all the pallbearers and honor guard have masks, and just about nobody else does. A comment in this thread about the funeral of ex-president Roh in Korea earlier this year suggests this is common practice at Korean funerals. There are also the sun visors seen here, which can pull down to convert to a full face mask with a place to see out of.
posted by beagle at 1:52 PM on August 24, 2009

I don't know about the masks, my guess is it is less about the flu and more about general cleanliness, but somebody more authoritative can weigh in on that. As for the visors, those are the typical visors that Koreans wear to keep the sun out of their eyes. My guess is that the visors were handed out to the guests as a courtesy.
posted by forforf at 2:32 PM on August 24, 2009

I asked a native Korean I know well and she thought wearing masks was out of the ordinary and didn't have any explanation either.
posted by forforf at 6:25 PM on August 24, 2009

H1N1 cases have been ramping up worrying in Korea just over the last few weeks, to more than a hundred new cases a day in the last week or so. People are worried.

those are the typical visors that Koreans wear to keep the sun out of their eyes.

Not so much out of the eyes as off the face. I've talked about it elsewhere on this site in the past, but both women and less commonly men who want to appear high-status are (from my perspective) almost pathological about avoiding the sun, as a tan gives the impression that one is a farmer or manual labourer. Also, women tend to still be extremely conscious of the skin-aging effects of the sun. This is changing as outdoor leisure time grows, and many explain it as a skin-cancer prevention thing, but it is almost entirely about appearances.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:12 PM on August 24, 2009

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