North Koreans Addicted to Choco Pies - Catnip for Koreans
- uploaded: Jan 28, 2014
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The first time the South Korean factory owner watched his North Korean employees nibble on a Choco Pie, they appeared shocked -- even overwhelmed. He summed up their reaction to the South Korean snack in one word: "Ecstasy." Much like what Twinkies are to Americans, South Korea's Choco Pies -- two disc-shaped, chocolate-covered cakes, sandwiching a rubbery layer of marshmallow cream -- are ubiquitous, cost less than 50 cents and are full of empty calories. But on the other side of the Korean border, the snacks are viewed as exotic, highly prized treats, selling on North Korea's black markets for as much as $10, according to analysts. Their rising popularity in the north reveals an unexpected common ground between the two Koreas, despite their fractious relationship -- a shared sweet tooth. Despite perceptions of North Koreans as brainwashed, insulated masses, the hunger and desire for Choco Pie shows that "complete quarantine is impossible," wrote Richard Lloyd Parry in London Review of Books. Lloyd wrote that it "reveals a susceptibility to outside influence in a society commonly regarded as impenetrable." The crumbly mass of chocolate and marshmallow had taken on a subversive aspect. The Choco Pies have even been sent in balloon launches to North Korea by some advocacy groups. But Park Sang Hak, a prominent North Korean defector who regularly sends leaflets and supplies from South Korea, said the Choco Pies are not ideal for the balloons, because they weigh too much and crumble. Park says he prefers to send U.S. $1 bills, vitamins and information through USB drives.
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