North Korea bans workers from receiving 'Choco Pies' as black market trade flourishes
The Wagon Wheel-like biscuit is regularly smuggled from South Korea
Tuesday 01 July 2014
North Korea has reportedly banned factory workers from receiving “Choco Pies” as payment as a black market in the beloved snacks flourishes.
The biscuits, which resemble Wagon Wheels, may seem unremarkable but for years, they have been at the heart of a surprising smuggling industry at the border of North and South Korea.
North Koreans have been allowed to work in the Kaesong industrial park across the demilitarized zone in South Korea since 2004.
But restrictions meant that employees from the authoritarian state could not be paid cash bonuses for overtime, so payment switched to food products, namely Choco Pies.
The snacks became a sensation among workers and realising they were too valuable to eat, employees took them back to Pyongyang to sell on the black market for several times their original price.
The Kaesong Industrial Park is a joint venture between North Korea and the South It may seem like another hoax story from South Korea but the phenomenon has been documented widely by the BBC, Washington Post and London Review of Books, among others.
When the Kaesong Industrial Complex was closed for several months last year amid heightened tensions between the North and South, prices for a single Choco Pie reportedly rocketed to between £6 and £14 – more than a day’s pay.
The cost could now go through the roof if reports from the South Korean Chosun Ilbo newspaper are true.
Factory staff told the paper that North Korea ordered a halt to the supply of Choco Pies, telling businesses to give workers sausages, noodles, coffee and chocolate instead.
A famine in the 1990s killed up to one million North Koreans and the country still has problems with food shortages and receives aid.
Kim Jong-un visits a food manufacturer for North Korean soldiers Pyongyang could be concerned about the friendliness between its workers and South Korea, or believe the snacks are undermining its nationalist ideology.
Or maybe the Government is trying to drive hungry consumers to its own Choco Pie imitation, although they reportedly pale in comparison to their southern cousins.
Either way, the battle of the biscuits looks set to continue.
- 2 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Mafia's wall of silence broken: Victim of Cosa Nostra's extortion rackets in its Corleone heartland co-operates with authorities for the first time ever
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...
£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...