A report on the 27th suggesting that South Korean-made “Choco Pies” sell “on North Korea’s black markets for as much as $10” has been called into question by Daily NK sources.
The claim was made by CNN blog “Eatocracy” in an article on a new art exhibition called “The Choco Pie-ization of North Korea.” The event recently opened in New York to explore “the symbolism of the treat.”
If the report were accurate in its $10 assertion, at a black market exchange rate of approximately 8000 won (rates vary between cities) a single Choco Pie could cost as much as 80,000 won. Even in contemporary North Korea, which is beset by bouts of price inflation, that’s an impossible sum. Rather, sources testify that the chocolate snack and its Chinese equivalent actually sell for between 1000 and 2000 won.
Conversely, the only way to calculate a price of $10 per Choco Pie would be to employ the international exchange rate, which is currently 130 won to the US Dollar. Few people in modern North Korea work with these official numbers, however, and all market prices are set in accordance with black market exchange rates against either the US Dollar or Chinese Renminbi.
A Daily NK source from South Pyongan Province confirmed on the 29th that Choco Pies could recently be obtained in the city of Pyongsung, a major commercial hub, for 1000 won each.
“Recently the number of different foods available has also been increasing, so people aren’t even that determined to get just Choco Pies,” the source went on. “When the authorities try to stop the sale of Choco Pies from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, people just sell domestically developed or Chinese-made equivalent products instead.”