Lost and Found for Corpses


The story of the Chinese cottage industry of “body fishing” is an interesting look at how capitalism is affecting the country’s culture. Body fishers live by pulling dead bodies out of the Yellow River and charging the families of the deceased to retrieve the remains.

While some of the 80 to 100 bodies Wei gathers each year are victims of accidents and floods, he thinks that the majority end up in the river after suicide or murder. There’s no overt sign of a crime spree, though there’s evidence of many people taking their own lives. Indeed, suicide is the leading cause of death for women in rural China , and 26 percent of all suicides in the world take place in the nation, according to the World Health Organization

via Chinese fisherman on Yellow River reels in corpses – Yahoo! News.

Apparently, corpse fishing used to be something fisherman would do for free as a sort of human courtesy. Now, bodies are only released in exchange for cash. The amount depends on the means of the person coming to retrieve the corpse.

For bodies that are claimed, Wei has a price system that is sensitive to the income level of his customers. He charges the equivalent of US$75 to a farmer who claims a body, $300 to someone holding a job and $450 when a company is the payee.

Other corpse snatchers are reported to charge $45 just to view a body (according to practice, bodies are kept face down in the river to preserve their features so that they will be recognizable to relatives) and nearly $900 for a claim.

via Asia Times Online :: China News, China Business News, Taiwan and Hong Kong News and Business..

There is a need for public service here, for public health reasons and to discourage people from trading in grief.