Friday, 18 December 2009

An Unusual Obsession

Hi guys!

I've got something new for you today. Let me indulge you in one of my little obsessions of late. I have this tiny obsession with everything South Korean: clothes, fashion, looks, beauty, food, dramas and variety shows. It's an obsession that's pathetic because I don't understand nor read a word of Korean. Why? Hmmm that's a hard one.

I like their make-up because they focus in enhanching your looks and the outcome is an enchanced you that look like you don't wear a milligram of make-up, if that makes sense to you. I love their dramas because even though story lines are recycled i.e. 2 guys and a girl, the inevitable heart-breaking scenes that make you cry or the uber romantic scenes that make you squeeeeeee with delight, I can't help but fall for the good looking actors and the amazing chemistry in the dramas. I love their variety/reality shows because they are so freaking funny. And their clothes, omg, don't let me start on how fast they mass produce designer inspired clothing/shoes at the speed of sound at affordable prices. I want to go to South Korea!

One thing I got out of this obsession is the enlightenment of the world's longest standing war between the North and South Korea. I always knew there was a war, an ongoing famine in the North and a dictator that's mad but I never ever seriously considered the human aspects of such a complicated war. Families separated from each other for more than 50 years not by distance but by political needs. A place where self-volunteered delusions keep you and your family safe. A place where you think you're in the best situation possible compared to the outside world which you were never allowed to step into even though you are always hungry. A lil like The Matrix I suppose.

I downloaded documentaries, watched youtube videos on surviving escapees and read even more. I even went as far as purchasing this great little comic/graphic novel.
I have come to the conclusion that world aid only supports the dictatorship in North Korea which will in turn cause more suffering as this gives more power to the dictatorship. Everything sent there is controlled and only trickles down to those who support the regiment. I am a total geek I know. Now that I know what's happening I feel so sad for them. I feel equally sad for the South Koreans who can only watch from afar as their families and their people are forced to suffer.

You can only imagine my horror when I found out that an ambitious Swedish startup, Noko Jeans produced jeans in North Korea. The 1100 jeans are only available in black as blue jeans are associated with the capitalistic US of A. The jeans are retailing at $220 a pop and started selling in early December.
As much as I can understand Noko's motive to increase the world's attention towards North Korea, it seems to be out of bad taste for them to capitalise on the rarity of the Made in North Korea brand name, like how designer brands capitalise on the Made in France/Italy brand. Plus, Noko thinks it's great that they are bringing in outside interaction into the world's most isolated country. I think it's great but isn't that what NGOs are there for? Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea has high rises and modern ammenities but I suspect its residents have been selectively chosen based on their 'loyalty' towards the government. The rest are either in impoverished villages or prison camps.
Mind you I have nothing against the premium jeans, they look great. I mean the Swedes design excellent designer jeans but I am just against the idea of bringing in investments into a country that doesn't love its own people equally. It is just another feather in Kim Jong Il's cap to further control the country and brainwash its people on North Korea's so called 'commuinist superiority'. I don't think they have successfully sold in terms of numbers based on previous expectations of the rarity of the jeans. A Stockholm departmental store pulled the plug on the first day of sales due to the negative image that could be associated with the jeans. They are currently only selling online.

I am not sure how you feel about this issue. Fashion has always had its fair share of controversies, sweat shop conditions, real fur and horrendous pays. I've always tolerated the fact that we are sold items that cost 20 times less than retail price. But going this far to make a brand name stand out is just way out of line. Perhaps it increases the skills of North Korea's selected people but what help does that do for a country that chooses to keep to itself?

I am no political firebrand, I am however for fashion that's non-political and non-religious. Fashion has power and it shouldn't be used in this way.

- Sue

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