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Cemetery app helps Korean Catholics trace lost loved ones

Amid ongoing low birthrates and a rapidly aging society, the app is expected to be a vital Korean Church tool
John Baptist Kwon Yo-han, developer of the Cemetery Address Platform app, explains how to use it at Yongin Park Cemetery in Seoul in this undated image

John Baptist Kwon Yo-han, developer of the Cemetery Address Platform app, explains how to use it at Yongin Park Cemetery in Seoul in this undated image. (Photo: Catholic Times)

Published: November 10, 2023 05:51 AM GMT
Updated: November 10, 2023 06:09 AM GMT

A smartphone app, developed with the backing of Seoul archdiocese, allows Catholics in South Korea to locate the graves of their lost loved ones.

The Cemetery Address Platform allows users to receive detailed information on a particular grave simply by entering the name of the deceased persons on a smartphone.

The app has been developed by Infoseed Co., Ltd. With support from Seoul archdiocese.

The company’s chief executive officer, John Baptist Kwon Yo-han, 54, is a Catholic from Dasan parish covered by Uijeongbu diocese.

The platform uses Geo.nick, a global precision address solution patented by Infoseed, to record and search cemeteries. By assigning a unique address to each cemetery, like a street number or street name address, and integrating this with the name (baptismal name) information of the deceased, the exact location can be found with just one search. 

High-resolution drone images allow users to directly check the characteristics of cemeteries, such as forests, steep slopes, and ambiguous boundaries between paths, and help them easily find their way.

“You can use the portal map service on your smartphone to find the location of a destination such as a restaurant, but there was actually no service within the Church that showed the location of the graves of family members, relatives, or acquaintances,” Kwon said.

“Using precision grid and address technology, we are happy to be able to provide smart services to administrators and worshipers,” he said.

The app is currently being used to find graves in Yongin Park Cemetery in the Archdiocese of Seoul, and the service will be available for 20,000 graves, he added.

Stefanus Lim, a Catholic from Seoul, visited a cemetery after seven years to pay his respects to a dead relative this November, when Catholics across the globe remember and pay tribute to their lost loved ones.

However, he could not remember the location of the grave. He inquired at the cemetery management office and was able to locate the grave by using the app.

Kwon hopes that more Church-run cemeteries will use the platform, which would help elderly believers or those visiting cemeteries after a long time to easily find graves.

“Many cemeteries are geographically scattered and have different operating and management entities, but it is important for cemeteries to actively participate in the platform in order to provide the same service to believers at any cemetery they visit,” he said.

As Korea continues to grapple with record low birth rates amid a rapidly aging population, such services are poised to become significant for the Church, Kwon said.

"As we enter an aging society, our church community will see more funerals. This is an important time when we need to make a lot of qualitative preparations in terms of management and service,” he added.

* This report is brought you in partnership with the Catholic Times of Korea.

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