Infiltration of North Korea: The subversive Choco-Pie
Policymakers in the US often throw up their hands in frustration about how to get through to seemingly impenetrable North Korea, but a South Korean businessmen figured out a way.
He had his staff hand out priceless treasures to North Korean workers: Coca-Cola and the Choco Pie.
The Choco Pie is a chocolate-covered marshmallow-cookie sandwich that costs about 50 cents in the south.
A South Korean entrepreneurs began handing them out as modest employment bonuses to the impoverished workers at the regime-owned Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea.
This innocent beginning could have serious consequences for those interested in penetrating North Korean society. Western consumer products of any kind are in such demand that they trade freely on the internal black market, which the North Korean regime is increasingly tolerating.
This is a prime avenue for infiltrating North Korean elites, and “raising the consciousness” of North Korean society as a whole.
CNN reports that people became amazed at the subversive effect of the Choco Pie and Coke on North Koreans. The Choco Pies wound up on the black market, with North Koreans shelling out a day’s pay or more – the equivalent of $10 – for a treat.
A “complete quarantine is impossible” in North Korea, Richard Lloyd Parry wrote in the London Review of Books. Quoted in the CNN report, Lloyd said that it “reveals a susceptibility to outside influence in a society commonly regarded as impenetrable.”
According to CNN, “The crumbly mass of chocolate and marshmallow had taken on a subversive aspect.”
An artist behind a Choco Pie exhibit says the Choco Pie “has a power in how it works as a mind changing tool between South and North.”