Each time you wear a shirt, you have the opportunity to share an idea in front of hundreds of people, but don’t be fooled — a shirt alone won’t change someone’s mind or motivate action.
To take it to the next level, the wearer must be an informed representative of the idea the shirt represents. We will continue to create materials that spark interest and challenge people’s perception of North Korea, but it is YOUR job to actually SHIFT people’s perceptions. So, this shirt is only a tool. YOU are who makes it function. In order for you to use this tool properly, you should know the thinking behind the design! So here goes…
“I <3 NY” is one of the most iconic and repurposed marketing graphics. Originally developed by Milton Glasser in 1977, the logo was created to promote tourism in New York City. Now, it seems so natural to love New York. Why wouldn’t you? We associate positive thoughts with New York, so the logo makes sense. We agree and no one questions that statement. It positively adds to the “brand” of New York and it has given the city a familiar and likable face for decades.
The world ought to think of North Korea in a positive light as well. Why? It’s simple — we aren’t going to help something we don’t like. We all know that the public perception of North Korea must SHIFT, and the creative team thought a great approach to that was to repurpose this completely accepted statement by changing its focus. We expect some friction with this design, and we welcome it – that’s the point! When people see this statement, we anticipate questions like, “Wait…why do you love North Korea? That place is an evil, communist dictatorship that wants to wipe us out with their nukes.” We know we will get some of these responses, because we tested it, and we’ve seen some rather confused Facebook comments. Before we launched the shirt I also wore it around town, and was asked about it more than shirts I’ve worn in the past. I also saw some pretty intrigued responses.
Photo by Roman Harak
We all know why people are challenged by this statement. Confusion towards this kind of message comes because we’ve allowed crazy dictators and nuclear weapons to define the whole country. But we refuse to allow the regime to define North Korea. We define North Korea by the 24 million people who live in the country. 24 million people with an awesome potential for driving positive change not only in their own country, but also to the benefit of all of humanity. LiNK rescues North Korean refugees, and we have had the privilege to learn and engage with the North Korean people. We have seen the passion and the abilities of those who have escaped. If they are any representation of the rest of the North Korean population, we have every reason to love this place. It is a land full of breathtaking beauty, a people rich in culture and strength. More than that, we have heard from North Korean refugees who wish to return to their homeland when it is free. If the PEOPLE we work with and for love their country and continue to have pride and love for their countrymen and women, then we can love it too. We work to see a day that this country is free, when we can freely visit North Korea and engage and learn from the PEOPLE without constraint. And we can’t wait to see the North Korean people transform their country into a positive force in our world.
Photo by Adam Sjoberg
So yes, we LOVE North Korea and we think everyone else should LOVE North Korea too! When something we love needs support, we work for it by sacrificing our time, energy, and resources. Humans are funny animals, for as selfish as we can be, compassion is a real and strong force in our world and it starts with LOVE. Stand with us and SHIFT perceptions about North Korea. Share the stories of 24 million PEOPLE and a land jam-packed with potential to contribute to our global family.
Pick up your I <3 NK shirt here!
Until the next project,
TONY SASSO | Creative Director