Extra! Korea

April 24, 2009

Was the movie “JSA” prophetic about choco pies?

Filed under: movies, North Korea — extrakorea @ 7:16 am

In the movie “JSA” actor Song Gang-ho played a North Korean soldier who became enamored with the South Korean snack called “choco pies.” If you’re Canadian, you’ll recognize them as being very similar to the much older snack called Wagon Wheels.
It turns out that North Koreans really do love choco pies.

If there’s one South Korean product that all North Korean workers in the Kaesong Industrial Complex know about, it’s Choco Pie. According to factory owners in the Kaesong complex, some businesses there began passing out the snacks to their North Korean workers in 2005 to boost morale, which led to explosive popularity of the product among workers, and now most businesses there have followed suit.

[ snip ]

The Choco Pies are then brought out of the industrial park through unofficial channels and sold in black markets near Pyongyang. One South Korean government official said North Korean authorities tried to stop Choco Pies from being smuggled out of the complex, but this has proven too difficult to do, and they are now turning a blind eye, the staffer said.

He added Choco Pies were “sweet symbols of capitalism” for North Koreans.

Perhaps you’re heard of the Sunshine Policy, the policy of engaging North Korea that was pursued for two consecutive presidential terms, and whose abject failure has lead to, among other things, North Korea’s rocket launch, the restarting of its nuclear program, and continuation of human rights violations. As blogger G.I. Korea noted, Dr. Andrei Lankov, an expert on Korea, advocates a radically different kind of policy, one that, in years to come, may be referred to as the Choco Pie Engagement Policy.

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