Truck drivers and traders in China's border city of Dandong said on Thursday that trade with North Korea has slowed to a trickle following the death of leader Kim Jong-Il earlier this month.
Kim died on December 17 from a heart attack at the age of 69, and North Korea has imposed an official 13-day mourning period that culminated Thursday with a massive memorial service.
Many people in Dandong, a city of 2.5 million people in northeastern China that borders North Korea, trade with the impoverished, isolated state, which depends heavily on its wealthier neighbour for oil, food and consumer goods.
But since Kim's death was announced on December 19, many of Dandong's traders and truck drivers have laid idle.
The city also normally has a large temporary population of North Koreans -- most of them traders -- but Pyongyang reportedly ordered its nationals to return home for Kim's funeral.
Han Lixin, an entrepreneur who sells agricultural machinery to North Korea, said business with the country "had basically stopped" since Kim's death.
"There has been no business or trading," he told AFP, adding his trade with North Korea accounted for 50 percent of his overall business.
At a loading zone in the city, an employee surnamed Tang said the number of trucks crossing the border had plunged by half since December 19.
"At first I was a little worried they would stop us sending goods," Tang told AFP, as more than a dozen trucks lay idle in the loading zone, where boxes of cigarettes, instant noodles and agricultural machinery are normally piled on to lorries bound for North Korean markets.
Both Tang and Han expressed confidence that business would return to normal once the mourning period had ended.
But one businessman surnamed Yu, who sells trucks to North Korea, said he did not dare predict the future where business with the isolated state was concerned.
"It is a very special country, it is not like other countries," he said, just as North Korea formally declared Kim's untested young son Jong-Un as the new supreme leader.