Merchandise featuring the Republic of China (ROC) flag is becoming increasingly popular as the ROC celebrates its 100th anniversary this year — and so is the owner of an ROC flag merchandise shop in Greater Kaohsiung, Yang Yu-mei (楊玉梅), whom local media have dubbed “the national flag girl.”
As a descendant of a veteran soldier, Yang said she was taught to be “patriotic and loyal to the [Chinese Nationalist] Party [KMT]” since she was a kid.
A decade ago, she began to collect anything with the ROC flag on it, starting with a watch featuring the national symbol. So far, she has collected hundreds of items.
When Yang worked in the campaign headquarters for KMT candidate Huang Chun-ying (黃俊英) in the 2006 Kaohsiung mayoral election, her “ROC flag” outfit — including clothes, small accessories and a backpack — caught the attention of other volunteers, earning her the nickname “the national flag girl.”
Later, Yang continued to work as a volunteer at other KMT candidates’ rallies, helping her become well known among KMT supporters and campaign workers.
Yang’s heroine, not surprisingly, is girl scout Yang Hui-min (楊惠敏), who delivered an ROC flag to soldiers defending a warehouse under Japanese siege in Shanghai in 1937.
In 2005, after discovering in a flea market an out-of-print book titled The 800 Warriors and I written by Yang Hui-min, the excited Yang Yu-mei made the book the “treasure of the store.” Afterwards, relatives and friends began to call her “the modern Yang Hui-min.”
Yang Yu-mei said that because both she and Yang Hui-min bear the surname “Yang,” they could trace their ancestry sback to -Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, China. She added that because both of them love the ROC flag, she is proud to be called “the modern Yang Hui-min.”
Yang Yu-mei said that when she sees fallen ROC flags, she puts them back upright, and when she sees ROC flags on the ground, she takes them home, washes them and keeps them.
Yang Yu-mei added that whenever she sees ROC flags on the street, her heart beats faster.
In her store, Yang Yu-mei sells scarves, watches, caps, backpacks, T-shirts, mugs, pencils, pens, erasers, badges, key chains, gloves, tote bags and blankets with the ROC flag printed on them.
As the ROC’s 100th anniversary approaches, business in her shop is booming, Yang Yu-mei said, adding that she would continue to add merchandise for “fans of the flag.”