Mourning in border city lifts flower sales
Updated: 2011-12-29 08:48
DANDONG, Liaoning - Business was booming for flower sellers in the Chinese border city of Dandong on Wednesday as mourners gathered at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) consulate to pay their respects to late leader Kim Jong-il.
Scores of mourners clutched bunches of yellow and white flowers as they entered the consulate, where large flat-screen televisions had been put up to show Wednesday's funeral.
Women mourners, carrying flowers, walk toward to a DPRK restaurant where people gathered to pay respects to the late DPRK leader Kim Jong-il in Dandong, a Chinese city bordering the DPRK, on Wednesday. Eugene Hoshiko / Associated Press
Another 100 people crammed into a DPRK restaurant across the street that had been closed since Kim's death - along with scores of others in the city - but had reopened its doors for people to watch the ceremony.
Dandong, a city of 2.5 million people in northeast China, is the main portal for trade with the DPRK.
One Chinese national surnamed Xu, who was born in the DPRK but moved to Dandong with his family as a teenager, said he had a "heavy heart" after Kim's death at age 69.
"I am very sad because the great leader who showed kindness and mercy to my whole family has died," Xu, 25, told AFP as he left the consulate. "If I have the opportunity I will go back to the DPRK."
On Tuesday, dozens of mourners entered the consulate where they left their flowers and bowed deeply before a portrait of Kim and signed their names in a book of condolences.
Flowers were still arriving at the consulate on Wednesday morning, shortly before the funeral ceremony began. A man riding a bicycle with a cart delivered a large wreath of yellow and white flowers.
A florist surnamed Sun said he had been doing a roaring trade in the past nine days, selling "tens of thousands" of flowers to DPRK and Chinese mourners.
"Business is really good," Sun said as he sat in a chair outside the consulate waiting to deliver another flower arrangement worth 800 yuan ($125).
"I have delivered flowers here many times."
Media reports from the Republic of Korea (ROK) said flowers had been airlifted from Shanghai to the border city, where stocks had run out due to heavy demand for chrysanthemums - the traditional flower of mourning - across the border.
Yang Minshi, a DPRK citizen living in Dandong with her Chinese husband, cried after paying her respects.
"I'm very sad," said Yang, 39, her eyes filled with tears and her lips trembling.
Her husband Gao Zhigang, 35, said he would never forget the late DPRK leader.
"I am very sad but my heart will never forget him. Kim Jong-il will live in our hearts forever," said Gao, who owns a processing business.