TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A pair of roadside mailboxes that were uniformly bent by a falling signboard during a typhoon earlier this month have become celebrities in Taiwan, drawing steady lines of people to snap photos and inspiring fan merchandise.
Many Taiwanese think that the public mailboxes resemble faces, and this side-by-side pair — one green and one red — now looks especially cute because their poles are bent in their mid-section at similar angles.
"They look like they're smiling," said Taiwan's mail service Chunghwa Post publicity officer surnamed Huang. "That's pretty special. So we see a lot of people out taking photos."
The mailboxes, two of 10,986 around Taiwan, gained fame after Typhoon Soudelor ripped across the island Aug. 8, killing eight and injuring 420 before claiming another 21 lives in China. Strong winds tore a signboard from a building in central Taipei, bending the mailboxes to the right on their poles as it fell.
Security guards now protect the mailboxes while chuckling fans pose next to them, either bending themselves or pretending to push the boxes.
"The typhoon wasn't really that bad after all," said Ting Po-yi, 17, a high school student who came from a Taipei suburb to get his photo taken.
Some fans have created memorabilia including key chains and mobile phone shells. A website has an app that lets users superimpose the mailboxes onto photos in phones and computers.
Chunghwa Post originally planned to remove the boxes Thursday, citing safety concerns. But the postal service announced after a public outcry it would let the boxes stay pending an internal review. In a statement Thursday, it advised crowds not to push or squeeze.
The mailboxes can still take letters, which Chunghwa Post is stamping with a special postmark showing the two leaning celebrities, said public relations officer Weng Yao-kuang.
The boxes nowadays are usually stuffed.