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.
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
How China's richest man Li Hejun lost $15bn in an hour - and made a fortune
Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...