The Crying Game

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Crying your eyes out doesn't sound fun, but it can be a lucrative business in Taiwan. Jun-Lin Liu is a professional mourner: She gets paid to weep at strangers' funerals. Wearing a white robe, Liu crawls to the foot of the deceased's coffin, then lets rip a series of high-pitched cries. "It's an old tradition here," says Liu, 30, who charges fees starting at $600. "When loved ones die, people are emotionally exhausted. I express the grief they're too tired to show."

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Professional mourners also exist in India, the Middle East, and Africa, and their popularity is returning to mainland China as the country rediscovers pre-communist traditions.

Liu performs at as many as 12 funerals per month. Sometimes she includes a colorful acrobatic performance with a group of young female employees. "Demand for my services is rising, so I hope it continues," says Liu. She'll have little to cry about then.

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