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Buddhist monk cremated in elaborate funeral ceremony

Jeon Heon-Kyun / EPA

Buddhist monks and devotees stand around a pyre during a high priest's cremation ceremony at the Heain-sa temple in Hapcheon, South Korea, on Jan. 6, 2012. The ceremony, called Dabisik, was held for Ji-Kwan, a former head of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.

Photographer Jeon Heon-Kyun attended the cremation ceremony for Ji-Kwan, a venerated former head of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, earlier this month.

The Dabisik ceremony signifies the return of the human body to nature, The European Pressphoto Agency reports. The casket is placed on a pyre constructed from wood, charcoal and thatched bags. After the body has burned, the bones are gathered from the ashes, crushed and ground up.

Jeon Heon-Kyun / EPA

A monk stands next to the pyre during Ji-Kwan's cremation.

The ceremony was held at the Haein-sa Temple, where Ji-Kwan had first entered into the order in 1947, and where he served as head monk from 1970 to 1972.

Ji-Kwan was renowned for his vast knowledge of Buddhist scriptures. In 2001, the South Korean government awarded him the second-highest order of culture in recognition of his contributions to promoting Buddhist culture.

Jeon Heon-Kyun / EPA

Monks collect the cremated ashes of Ji-Kwan on Jan. 7, 2012, after the cremation.