One of these geniuses is 52-year-old Hu Xinglian,(胡 兴莲 Hú Xīnglián), known by her stage name, Jingle Cat Dragonfly. If that sounds weird, it is.
She goes by "Dingding Mao" (叮叮猫 dīng dīng māo), which means Jingle Cat, but in the Chongqing dialect, that means "dragonfly" (蜻
Apparently the practice of paying for mourners began in the time of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (汉武帝 Hàn Wǔdì) (141-87 BC). During the Cultural Revolution it was seen as part of the "poisonous influence of Feudalism," (封建流毒 fēngjiàn liúdú) and was suppressed. After China's reform and opening up, (改
The article I read describes a typical funereal gig for Hu. After finding out a little about the deceased, Hu reads the eulogy with a sad voice, and calls out the person's name between sobs. She may also call out "Mother!" or "Father!" in order to move the crowd. Which is odd since she is not related to the dead person. Sometimes she will kneel before the casket, or even crawl on the floor, wailing after the person's soul, begging it not to leave so soon (see picture).
She makes between 200-800 yuan per session ($25-$100), and in the seven years she has been doing this for a living, she's served about 4,000 people. Although, she said does not actually cry at the funerals, she just fakes it. (If you replace "cry" and " funeral" with other words, this paragraph could be talking about another "ancient profession!")
It is unclear if she was hired as a consultant for Kim Jong-Il's Million Man Funeral, but the tradition apparently lives on in North Korea. However those mourners probably did not get paid, unless you consider not being executed a form of currency.
But it's not all doom and gloom for a professional mourner! Hu is also in a band and they play at weddings, too.