The West has a new weapon against the brutal Kim regime that rules North Korea. It’s not Dennis Rodman — in fact, he may have violated some laws when he showered Kim Jung Un with pimp daddy gifts during his latest visit to Pyongyang.
The West’s new weapon against Kim? The Choco Pie.
“It was clear that the workers had gotten at least some idea of capitalism and that it wasn’t all bad,” he told CNN.
“They had only associated the United States with evil, and the fact that they could love something that the U.S. had produced — specifically Coca Cola — was an eye-opener.”
The factory owner, who did not wish to be named, operated his business for seven years at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, one of the key symbols of cooperation between North and South Korea, and the site through which Choco Pies trickled into North Korea.
At the complex, more than 100 South Korean factory owners employ about 50,000 North Korean laborers to manufacture products like clothing and shoes. Kaesong, considered to be an important source of hard currency for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime, sits just a few kilometers north of the Demilitarized Zone, which divides the two Koreas. It re-opened in September after a five-month hiatus.
“It’s really the only one place where North Koreans and South Koreans come in regular contact together,” said Stephen Noerper, senior vice president of the Korea Society, in New York.
While workers at Kaesong brought their own rice, the South Korean factory owners provided them with soup and snacks, said the factory owner who spoke to CNN.
“The snacks were necessary because the workers were walking to work often for hours, because there were no buses and they became very hungry as they were working,” he said.
Choco Pie and Coca Cola were the standard snacks with other South Korean managers at Kaesong. They provided two Choco Pies a day, because “otherwise, (the workers) would not have energy to sustain themselves at work,” he said.
But he and fellow South Korean managers also noticed a conspicuous lack of Choco Pie wrappers at the factory.
“It became clear that the workers were hiding them and taking them home to give them to their children,” he said.
Choco Pies started making their way onto the North Korean black market at the Kaesong cooperative project. One of them costs less than a dollar in South Korea, and you can buy boxes of them even here in the US for a couple of bucks, but in North Korea, one Choco Pie costs about $10 on the black market. With the average North Korea worker making $100 to $200 a month, one Choco Pie is a huge expense.
CNN’s story on this ends with a bizarre backslap at the West:
Through all the stories about noise and misinformation about North Korea, perhaps the Choco Pie is a reminder of an aspect missing in the narratives about the country, said Noerper.
“We lose sight of the fact there’s a common human experience. We need to realize North Koreans are regular human beings — that 99% of North Koreans just desire a better life.”
“They want a Choco Pie at the end of the day.”
North Korea has succeeded in making itself invisible until it forces its way into the headlines with a crazy threat of war or a nuclear weapons test, or when Dennis Rodman shows up and does his thing. But no one outside North Korea blames the average North Korean for anything or sees them as somehow not human. They didn’t choose their government. They didn’t ask to be brainwashed. They have zero say in what the Kim cult does, inside our outside North Korea. They live in a police state that crushes its people every second of every day. Those of us who have studied and watched North Korea over the years just want the poor, oppressed people of that country to be free and at peace.