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Today's funeral of former leader Kim Jong-il and the transition of power to his son, Kim Jong-un, raise many questions about North Korea's future. In the Chinese city of Dandong, which borders North Korea, residents are hoping the power transition will be smooth.
North Korea's military staged a huge funeral procession on Wednesday in the capital Pyongyang for its deceased leader, Kim Jong-il.
A hearse carrying the coffin was led by a weeping Kim Jong-un, accompanied Jang Song-thaek, his uncle and a key power broker in the transition, and Ri Yong-ho, the army chief of staff.
Kim Jong-un will become the third member of the family to run the isolated and unpredictable Asian country.
However, indications from the transition to Kim Jong-il's son, Kim Jong-un, suggest that the hardline "military first" policy will continue.
The coming year was supposed to mark North Korea's self-proclaimed transformation into a "strong and prosperous" nation, but it faces a dangerous transition to a young, untested leader at a time when dictatorships across the world have tumbled.
It would seem however that little is set to change in a country that has staged what many analysts have dubbed a "Great March Backwards" over the last 20 years.
Further north, in the China-North Korea border town of Dandong in northeastern Liaoning province, life remains calm.
There was no visible increase of security in the busy downtown area near the Yalu River that separates the two communist allies.
Strong it may be - North Korea is backed by neighboring China, has conducted two nuclear tests and has ambitions to become a nuclear power and boasts a 1.2 million-strong armed forces - but prosperous it is not.
Some residents in Dandong, China are hopeful that the North will have a smooth power transition.