By Tim Binnall
An Indonesian village practicing self-isolation to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has tasked a pair of people dressed as ghosts with guarding the community. The strange 'supernatural' oversight has reportedly been put into practice in the town of Tuk Songo on the island of Java. Every evening for the last few days, two individuals sit at the main entrance to the village dressed as 'pocongs,' which are infamous spirits in the Indonesian culture that are said to be undead entities clad head to toe in a burial wrap.
"The pocongs will check on anyone who passes the gate," said village spokesperson Angko Setiyarso Widodo, and ensure that they are disinfected before they enter the community. The 'ghosts' are also presumably on guard to ensure that no one leaves the town before the quarantine has come to an end. Widodo explained that the 'spirits' act as something of a symbol beyond merely being a clever way of getting people's attention.
"The pocongs are to remind us of death," he said, musing that they serve to remind those who may be stubborn about adhering to the lockdown that, should they not obey the rules, they "can themselves become a pocong." To that end, in addition to their guard duty, the 'ghosts' have also been used to scare youngsters who are roaming around the village at night by popping out from the shadows and terrifying them, as can be seen in the footage above which has, oddly enough, gone viral in South Korea.
As some readers may recall from earlier this week, the idea of enlisting a faux ghost to keep the streets clear of young people during a lockdown also came about in Malaysia, where a man dressed as a 'spirit' to frighten stubborn teens became something of a sensation in his country. In an update to that story, police in the community gave the individual behind the 'apparition' a scare of his own when they visited his home yesterday. Fortunately for him, they were not there to arrest him and, in fact, had stopped by to thank him for doing his part in helping to enforce the quarantine.