What's the best remedy for a country that's in dire need of some love and seduction? A Swedish company had the answer when it deployed its “weapons of mass seduction” on North Korea, in the form of hot-pink underwear.
Björn Borg, a Sweden-based undergarment company named after the 1970s-era tennis legend, earlier this fall asked its customers to pick a place anywhere in the world that was desperate for some “underwear attention.”
“Our mission would then be to drop 450 pairs of our sexy underwear over that location,” the Björn Borg blog said.
More than 180,000 votes, 8,000 destination nominations and one month later, they had a winner. With 60 percent of the votes, “Pyongyang, North Korea, won by a landslide. Perhaps the most mythical and inaccessible city in the whole world,” the company declared.
While an airdrop of underwear was just not feasible considering the restrictions of the isolated nation and airspace, and could unintentionally start a war if it were possible, that didn’t deter Björn Borg from figuring out a way to get its underwear into the oppressive state. “Challenge accepted,” the company bragged to the voters.
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“We had promised to deliver our underwear to the winner, and the world voted for North Korea,” Lina Soderqvist, marketing director at Björn Borg, told Swedish English-language news outlet The Local. “And we thought, who are we to say no? We’ve been given this mission, by the world. So let’s do it.”
The mission was indeed carried out, by a Björn Borg underwear dispatcher and North Korea traveler whose identity was kept secret, but he documented the entire trip, including the visa process ahead of the trip, in a blog. The traveler marked the challenges he faced in sneaking in hundreds of pairs of underwear into a nation known for its tight borders.
While bringing underwear into North Korea is not illegal, hundreds of hot-pink camouflage print briefs would likely raise some eyebrows at airport customs.
The writer was met at the airport by his local guides, and he was already thinking about how he would hand out his “Weapons of Mass Seduction.” Start with the guides, of course. After a few days, the writer gave his few first pairs of underwear to his guides, who were happy but reserved in their reaction. “It seems difficult to give people gifts here, since they are not very used to them.”
Handing out freebies turned out to be a lot more difficult than anticipated. “Conditions for performing the task are… not ideal” the blogger wrote. “I am never left alone. Ever. Except for when I am at my hotel…The only time when I was left alone today was for one minute in the Pyongyang Metro, but I felt that taking out pink underwear and taking photos down there could have some serious consequences, so I decided not to do it.”
In the end, the writer resorted to leaving the last few pairs of the pink undergarments in odd little places, like in the hotel lobby elevator banks, out the window of his room, for them to be found and hopefully picked up by people who will use them.
“I’m sure the recipients of our gifts will have use for them, and that their new Weapons of Mass Seduction will do more good than the thousands of actual weapons in circulation here.”