I have a funeral to attend tomorrow. I own one black suit, and it's terrible. So terrible that I opted for the darkest gray suit I own (alright, second darkest, but the other is windowpane). The funeral isn't anybody I've ever met (the father of a friend), and it's a Korean funeral, so it's three days long. On one hand, I'm nervous about not wearing all black. On the other hand, my black suit is atrocious ("Calvin Klein" and I'll leave it at that). And because the funeral is three straight days, people are coming and going constantly, so I figure I won't be a sole gray standing out in a sea of black.
Differences between Korean funerals and Western funerals (Click to show)
This is actually my first Korean funeral, so I asked my fiance about it. It's an interesting process.
The funeral homes are all buildings on hospital grounds. When someone dies, a funeral is held for three days. During this time, the immediate family of the deceased stays at the funeral home...technically the funeral is 24 hours a day, and in theory a member of family needs to be on hand to greet a possible guest (in practice, I imagine they sleep fairly normal hours). Regardless, for their waking hours they have to sit, in full white funeral attire, to receive guests.
On my end, I first walk into a room for gifts. At funerals, weddings, and a child's first birthday, guests are always expected to give money. Since I'm not particularly close, I give 50,000 won (about 42 USD). This is kept inside a white envelope.
I then go and greet the family in the next room. The entire family won't be there; some will be in the proceeding rooms talking to the guests. I then enter a room where the deceased resides (though I don't know if the body is actually present). There is a big picture of him at the center of the room. I take a flower, place it in front of the picture, and then bow. Christian Koreans just bow from the waist; all other Koreans will prostrate themselves and touch their forehead to the ground. I'm doing the former since I a) am not Korean b) have never met the man.
Finally, I go to the last room where I eat food set out for the guests. Apparently things can get pretty rowdy here as alcohol is served (though given that I'm going at 9 in the morning, I doubt this will be the case).