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S. Koreans gather for mourning after Roh's funeral ceremony

HUNDREDS of thousands of South Koreans filled the central Seoul Plaza in tribute to the former president Roh Moo-hyun today for a memorial rite held after the funeral ceremony.

Roh's memorial march to the cremation site was prolonged as more crowd than the authorities had expected filled the streets to bid a farewell to the late president.

The slow-pace procession, which was supposed to arrive at the Seoul Station first and then at Suwon's cremation site at local time 3pm, was delayed more than an hour, as the streets in the center of the city were crowded with hundreds of thousands of people.

The memorial rite started at 1:23pm, some 20 minutes later than its original schedule, and ended in peace and order in around 30 minutes.

Roh's body will be cremated in Suwon as he explicitly had asked for it on his note, with the remainder to be taken for burial near his home in Bongha Village.

Mourners filled the plaza with waves of yellow, Roh's symbol color as it was used for his 2002 presidential election, with some of them tying yellow ribbons on their arms and necks or flying off yellow balloons to the sky to show respect to their late leader.

The streets near the plaza were also flourishing the yellow move, with as much riot police lined up in protection.

South Korean President Lee has been criticized by some of the public, including Roh's supporters, as Roh chose his death amid the prosecutors' investigation on his bribery scandal.

South Korean authorities permitted the Seoul Plaza, which had been closed since Roh's death in worries over protests, for the civilian gatherings for the whole day as long as they were held peacefully.

Since Roh's death, nearly one million mourners have made the pilgrimage to the ex-president's hometown Bongha as of this morning.

In addition, millions of mourners have paid their respects at some 140 altars nationwide, including one of the government's official altars located in Seoul Museum of History near the Seoul City Hall.

Earlier in the day Roh's funeral was held in Seoul's historic royal palace, Gyeongbok Palace, attended by some 3,000 people.

Roh, served as president of South Korea from 2003 to 2007, jumped off a cliff near his home in Bongha Village as the prosecution probed into his bribery scandal worth some US$6 million.


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