North Korea Gets Choco Pies Via Hot Air Balloon, Thanks To Wily Activists In The South

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Actually, if you’re in North Korea, it’s a delicious chocolate marshmallow snack sandwich. On Wednesday, activists in South Korea sent roughly 10,000 Choco Pies into North Korea via helium balloons in the latest attempt to undermine Kim Jong-un's regime, which does not allow its citizens to enjoy Choco Pies. It may sound silly, but it was actually a daring and bold move on the part of the anti-Pyongyang crowd.

While the activists sent other snacks as well, the inclusion of Choco Pies wasn’t arbitrary. According to South Korean media, the s’more-like desert has exploded in popularity in North Korea, and has actually become a black market currency. That’s a remarkable enough fact that it bears repeating: In North Korea, people have been using Choco Pies as money.

Let’s back up a bit. In 2002, North and South Korea launched the Kaesong Industrial Zone, a joint project between the two countries intended to provide jobs to North Koreans and cheap labor for South Korean companies. One way that these companies attracted workers from the north was to augment their wages with free Choco Pies. This was a clever idea because, while the Choco Pie is very popular in South Korea, they’re banned in the north, being a symbol of Western decadence and all. It was also a clever idea because Choco Pies are delicious.

Not surprisingly, North Korean workers started bringing Choco Pies back to their native country, and even less surprisingly, they immediately caught on amongst the North Korean populace. They caught on so much, in fact, that these workers started selling the pies on the black market, and the pies themselves developed into a form of currency.

Displeased with the infiltration of Western values into his hermetic kingdom, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un demanded that the South Korean companies to stop handing out the pies in May, so they did. And that’s how Choco Pies ended up as an unexpected but major player in the ongoing, sixty-year conflict between North and South Korea.

Activists in South Korea have often used helium balloons to sneak subversive political materials to their oppressed neighbors in the north, but usually they’re sending radios or anti-Pyongyang leaflets, not desert pies.

It’s impossible to know how many of the pies reached civilian populations, given the closed nature of Kim’s regime. But let’s hope that, that over the last few days, at least some of the North’s beleaguered citizens have been greeted by a scrumptious concoction of chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker floating gently to Earth from the heavens.

Image: Wikimedia Commons