Going to North Korea was like traveling 50 years back in time. When we got to Pyong Yang, we had to leave our cell phones at the airport; and from there, everything became more and more bizarre. We had to go up and bow three times in front of a 35 meter golden statue of The Great Leader Kim Il Sung, pledge allegiance to him, and leave a bouquet of flowers. Everywhere we went, everybody knew we were coming.
They staged scenes and scenarios just for our sake to try and make us believe an imaginary, fairytale story of how perfect the country was. It was like being in a remake of a nightmare-horror version of the film “The Truman Show.” The worst part was how they had managed to brainwash everybody into believing that the North Korean society is the best in the world.
One day was especially heartbreaking: we visited a kindergarten and were presented with lines of beautiful three to- four-year-old children marching and singing, “Kim Jung Il we’ll die for you.” Ever since I visited the country, I’ve wanted to find a way to help the real people of North Korea. All the locals we encountered were immensely nice — just as long as the topic of discussion didn’t concern their Great, Dear, or Supreme leader.
Until the regime collapses, we will help them indirectly through selling the DEAR LEADER sunglasses and using the proceeds to support activist groups working to bring down the regime. Once it has fallen, I can’t wait to find ways to help the North Korean people with financial support, building up a new society directly on the ground.
DEAR LEADER is a collaboration between Michael Aoun (producer and entrepreneur), Johan Stahl (film director and musician), Maria Stumbeck (optometrist and dancer), Kristian Riis (musician and entrepreneur), Nicolai Stahl (founder and creative director of Hjaltelin Stahl), Morten Kirk (entrepreneur and business angel).