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Grief seen at tombs might be mere act

By Wang Qingchu (Shanghai Daily)

10:26, March 30, 2012

A man who cries in a piercing voice and collapses in grief in front of a tomb may not be a loving relative but a professional agent hired to showcase the sadness, as such business is buoyant in Tianjin.

As the Qingming Festival, also known as the Tomb Sweeping Day, draws closer, some companies are providing services to pay respects to the deceased on behalf of their family, local news portal Enorth.com.cn reported yesterday.

The service costs from 3,000 yuan (US$475) to 20,000 yuan. The most expensive service includes actors kneeling down in front of the tombs and crying their hearts out. The whole process, which lasts 30 to 40 minutes, is videotaped and sent to customers.

Ads promoting such services were commonly seen in several residential complexes. The owner of a company, surnamed Li, said business was booming and reservations were required, the report said.

The basic package includes placing fruits, joss sticks and paper-made sacrificial offerings at the grave. If agents give a kowtow, make a memorial speech and cry, extra fees are charged.

To dispel concern that these agents may not be able to shed tears at the tomb, Li said, "We are very experienced and have done it hundreds of times," the report said.

To demonstrate their capabilities, Li asked a woman to cry. The woman frowned and tears filled her eyes within 10 seconds. Then she murmured sad words and cried aloud with tears running down her face.

"Our employee can cry broken-heartedly in front of healthy people, let alone those who passed away," Li assured.

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