North: “Choco Pies Harmful”

North Korean authorities are spreading rumors that South Korean-made Choco Pies are harmful to the body, an inside source has reported.

The rumor surfaced as soon demand grew for the popular chocolate treat, and was initiated in order to “avoid ideological unrest,” the source from Yangkang Province told Daily NK on the 28th.

“Even though the Kaseong Industrial Complex has started up again, the only Choco Pies in the markets are North Korean imitations. Traders baulk at selling the South Korean kind, as the rumor has spread that, ‘South Korean authorities have added weird substances,’” the source conveyed.

Security agents tasked with cracking down on the markets are reportedly saying, “The South Chosun puppets intend to shake our national defense. They are spying and scheming,” and “If the products from the ‘neighborhood downstairs’ are enjoyed unconditionally, the ideology of the people could wither at any moment.”

“These kinds of rumors and market crackdowns have resulted in the disappearance of the once-abundant South Korean Choco Pies,” explained the source.

Rumors have also emerged regarding South Korea’s psychological warfare tactic of sending mass leaflets into the North; “They have planted bombs, so do not touch the leaflets. You have to use a stick (to move them),” and “They have cancer causing agents, so don’t go right up to them or your body will suffer.”

North Korean citizens have similarly been warned against foreign tourists from places like China, whose food “contains material that is harmful to our style of socialism.”

According to the source, “The propaganda arm of the central party manages popular sentiment. This organization makes up rumors in order to reduce and halt preferences for foreign clothing and products.”

“Even if a foreign product enjoys a little bit of popularity, it tends to create anxiety as it’s believed that ‘The enemy is unscrupulously scheming in order to annihilate our Republic.’ At first, the people were suspicious of such claims, but in the end these rumors were so constant they came to believe it.”

However the source doubts the efficacy of such rumors, as “At first the authorities target the more naive portion of the population. But in border areas and the like, the traders are sensitive to the government and they don’t believe such groundless rumors. The people have heard of foreign products and food before, and can remember eating it themselves. The authorities are spreading lies but the number of people falling for it is decreasing.”

Meanwhile, Daily NK previously reported that North Korean-made Choco Pies began to be sold in local markets following the recent shutdown of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. At the time, an inside source confirmed that the packaging of the North Korean Choco Pies was so similar to the South Korean variety that they could not be told apart.

Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to