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Symbol of protest in Hong Kong flies off IKEA shelves in Melbourne

IKEA stores in Melbourne are reporting low stocks of a stuffed toy that has gained notoriety as a symbol of political protest in Hong Kong. Phoebe Yuen reports.

The stuffed wolf that has become a symbol of protest in Hong Kong. Photo: IKEA

A stuffed wolf from IKEA has become an unlikely symbol of protest against Hong Kong’s government and Melbourne branches of the Swedish furniture chain are reporting low stocks of the toy.

The toy, named ‘Lufsig’, became associated with Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying on December 7 this year, when a protester threw a toy at the city’s leader at a public meeting.

Within three days, the toy was sold out at all IKEA stores in Hong Kong.

The “wolf” is a nickname given to Leung by his critics as a reference to his dishonesty and cunning tactics. As a result, some say the Lufsig craze represents the unpopularity of Hong Kong’s current government.

Overseas branches of IKEA have also seen a surge of buyers’ interest in Lufsig since December 7. Compared to the previous week, IKEA sales of Lufsig in Melbourne have increased more than 120 per cent.

“In our Springvale store, we sold 15 last week, and this week we have sold 275 (so far),” an IKEA customer service officer told Meld. “At the Richmond store, last week we sold 25, and this week, 273.”

IKEA predicted that Lufsig would be sold out by 16 December at both Melbourne stores, but the Springvale store would receive new stock on the same day.

Image: IKEA Melbourne website

An international student from Hong Kong, Chan Yi Chun said he bought four Lufsigs for his family and friends, who wanted them “just for fun.”

Another reason for Lufsig’s popularity is thought to be its name. In Cantonese, Lufsig’s original name is ‘Lo Mou Sai’, which sounds like a profanity.

IKEA Hong Kong has since changed the Cantonese translation of Lufsig to ‘Lo Fuk Sai’. However, the phrase ‘Lo Fuk Sai’ also sounds like another Cantonese profanity.

‘Lufsig’ has attracted attention on social media, with its own Facebook page gaining 40,000 “likes” in three days. As of December 18, the page has garnered has over 50,000 “likes”. Photos featuring the toy for the “My Lufsig photography competition” feature heavily on the page.

Some who bought the toy in large numbers have sought to cash in on the craze. On HK Yahoo’s auction site, the toy is listed for sale from HKD 120 to HKD 689 (AUD 17 to AUD 100).

Sales of the controversial soft toy, when purchased from IKEA, will go to a good cause, with HKD10 donated for every soft toy sold between November 10 this year to January 4 2014, to improve children’s education in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe.

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

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