Sugary Snacks Vanish from Capital

Long popular with the people of North
Korea, South Korean “Choco Pies” have disappeared without a trace from the markets
of the capital, a Pyongyang-based source reported to Daily NK on the 2nd

“Because of recent crackdowns, Choco Pies
from the ‘neighborhood below’ [South Korea] are hard to come by,” she explained. “Since the order
came down demanding that they restrict the sale of South Korean goods, you can
only find Chinese substitutes and the local version.”

“In markets in Pyongyang you can see
plenty of our Choco Pies produced locally at Yongseong Foodstuffs Factory, but
they’re small and don’t taste good at all so not many people want them,” the source went on. “Unlike last year when they first came out, the number
of people buying them has fallen.”

As is well known, Choco Pies made by the
South Korean company Orion are distributed as daily snacks to North Korean
employees at the Kaesong Industrial Complex [KIC]. Instead of eating them, many
are taken out of the inter-Korean manufacturing zone and sold in local markets at a good price; currently around 1500 won per pie. Sources report that the North
Korean equivalent is so similar in appearance to the South Korean version that
it’s hard to tell them apart, though the term “Choco Pie” has been replaced
with “Choco Rice Cake,” as is also the case for most South Korean derivatives of the
original product.

According to the source, members of the
domestic security forces have been going around markets in recent months confiscating
items suspected of being South Korean in origin such as second hand clothes. The
authorities give the impression of wanting to halt the influx of such products
into the country; hitherto it had been enough to simply remove South Korean tags to obscure a product’s origin.

In doing this, the authorities are
emphasizing the importance of “Socialism in Our Style” while attempting to put
a stop to the popularity of South Korean products, which poses a challenge
to ideological indoctrination, analysts believe.

“CDs loaded with South Korean dramas have also
totally disappeared in the crackdowns. In this confrontational environment, people
can’t enjoy the culture of the neighborhood below, not even in secret,” the source
added.

The crackdown appears to be
focused on Pyongyang, whose residents often find themselves subject to greater state surveillance in exchange for the highest standard of living in the country. South
Korean Choco Pies are circulating freely elsewhere, sources say. One such
Yangkang-based source reported, “For about two months at the end of last year there
was talk that the South Korean Choco Pies contained some strange substance, and
then there were none in the markets. But now there are plenty.”

This latest report follows on Daily NK’s
update on April 18th that North Korean laborers at the Kaesong
Industrial Complex use Choco Pies to bet on company sports matches with. 

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