Pacman and Peso, the local rappers with the quixotic goal of making a music video in the most repressive regime in the world, have returned to the United States with video evidence of their success.
“I’m at the top of the world and feeling strong,” Peso says in one shot of “Escape to North Korea,” which was uploaded to YouTube this week.
“We saw monuments, we saw [Kim Jong Il’s] embalmed body, we saw people working in rice fields.” Pacman ticks off the itinerary in a phone interview from his producer’s Mount Pleasant rowhouse. “It was different, but it wasn’t scary or what I thought it would be. I expected to not be accepted.” Instead, he says, locals wanted to take pictures with them and shake their hands.
This journey began back in August when Pacman and Peso, whose real names are Anthony Bobb and Dontray Ennis, posted a plea on the fundraising site Kickstarter. They, along with their producer, Ramsey Aburdene, wanted to raise $6,000 to travel to Pyongyang, figuring it couldn’t be any more dangerous than the Southeast D.C. and Landover, Md., neighborhoods they had grown up in.
The Washington Post published an in-depth article on their dream. Their story was then picked up by international media, who found the goal both bizarre and beguiling. They ultimately raised $10,000, with $5,000 coming from a hedge fund manager.
“Escape to North Korea,” filmed during their trip in late November, features footage of Pacman and Peso taking public transportation, standing in front of banners featuring Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un, and walking through public squares surrounded by boxy buildings and wide expanses of pavement. Turns out, Pyongyang looks a lot like . . . L’Enfant Plaza.
Next up for Pacman?
“Rapping is already my full-time job, I got so many interviews,” he says, laughing. They just filmed a spot for the cable music channel Fuse TV.
Next up for Peso?
“I’m reading my GED book right now,” he promises. “Got to get my GED.”