The fact that jeans are forbidden in North Korea didn’t stop three employees of the Swedish advertising agency Great Works from arranging to produce 1,100 pairs of the pants in Kim Jong-Il’s Hermit Kingdom. Nor were they deterred by the fact that the country is ruled by a paranoid crime family that starves and executes dissenters. After years of wrangling with government officials and unskilled factory workers, NoKo Jeans were born. They are currently on sale at $220 per pair, almost five months salary for the average North Korean worker.
According to the manufacturer, part of the asking sale price goes to the slave laborers in Pyongyang. This promise wasn’t enough for the Stockholm department store PUB, which backed out of an agreement to sell the jeans, citing “working conditions in North Korea.” In a press release, the founders of NoKo denounced the decision not to sell their trousers as “censorship.” —Michael C. Moynihan