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North Korea leader Kim Jong-il lies in state

Kim Jong-il's son and heir and senior officials pay their respects as the late North Korean leader lies in state ahead of his funeral next week.

(BBC NEWS) Pyongyang - Kim Jong-il died on Saturday of a heart attack caused by overwork and stress at the age of 69, state media said.

Regional powers have voiced fears over the nuclear country's future course.

The US has called on North Korea to pursue a "path of peace". It has promised to defend regional allies.

Kim Jong-il, who had been in power since the death of father Kim Il-sung in 1994, will be buried on 28 December.

The country has entered an 11-day period of official mourning, with flags being flown at half-mast at all military bases, factories, businesses, farms and public buildings.

Kim Jong-il's body is in a room of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, a mausoleum where Kim Il-sung's embalmed body has been on display in a glass sarcophagus since 1994.

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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