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TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - Lying face flat on the ground may not be the world's most glamorous photo pose but two Taiwanese "planking" women have made a name for themselves on the Internet -- and hope to use the craze to spread positive social messages.
Eschewing the dangerous behavior that killed one man in Australia and left another seriously injured, Karren and Jinyu practice a safer version of the fast-growing global fad that involves lying face down stiff in often bizarre places for a photo op.
In fact, they use it to promote causes, such as planking with stray dogs to draw attention to the plight of the animals, or planking in famous tourist spots to promote travel.
"It's not really that difficult to plank and I really don't mind getting dirty," said the petite Karren, who wore a Japanese manga-inspired outfit and a red backpack, in an interview, her partner nodding beside her.
Calling themselves the Pujie Girls which literally translates to "falling on the street" in Mandarin, the name is also a pun on the Cantonese curse "Puk Gai" which means "may you drop dead."
The pair are Taiwan's most well-known plankers, with almost 100,000 fans following them on Facebook. They are so popular that China's version of Facebook, Weibo, has invited them as VIPs on the tightly controlled social network to promote their activities across the strait.
During a recent planking session, young people walked up to the pair to ask if they could take photos of them and with them, while older passersby gave them strange looks. Planking-savvy Hong Kong tourists shouted "Puk Gai, Puk Gai."
Karren, 28,who is a full-time photographer, and Jinyu, 25, a university student studying English, have also recently appeared on various national television talk shows to demonstrate how planking is done accurately and safely. By posting their planking photographs taken at various tourist spots in Taipei, the two girls are aiming to promote Taiwan's tourism not just to China but to the world. "At first we did it for fun but then we realized that the photographs were very visual. So they could also be a very effective way to send out good messages," Jinyu said.
The two like to focus on positive messages.
"The three golden rules for contribution are as follows: we don't disturb people, we don't do things to harm ourselves and we don't damage public property," they repeatedly emphasize on their Facebook page.
Australian plankers have gotten in trouble for planking on moving cars, smokestacks, and industrial machinery, but the Taiwan pair's more moderate stance hasn't harmed their popularity at all.
"I love it! This is art!" one fan said.
Editing by Elaine Lies