In the south, around 200 North Korean defectors along with South Koreans, filled plastic bags with 350 Kg of Choco Pies and secured them to massive helium-filled balloons and set them free into North Korea from a park Paju city, at the border.
The event marked an act of defiance against the supposed North Korean prohibition on the chocolate confections.
Choco pies, which are manufactured in South Korea, are beloved in North Korea. Afraid that the pies would inspire a revolt, Kim Jong-un allegedly banned Choco Pies from the country earlier in July. The treats, which have turned into a political statement, are seen as a badge of capitalism and embody a taste of life outside of the borders of North Korea.
From time to time, Choco Pies have been handed out in North Korea as bonuses to Kaesong Industrial Complex labourers. Workers earn about $100 a month, according to Daily NK, but walk away with just 30% of their earnings due to government deductions. The pies were used to complement low salaries and give the employees a teaser of the outside world.
"Choco Pies are an important mind-changing instrument ... [North Koreans] are suffering and starving, but thanks to Choco Pies, DVDs and large-scale labour migration to China, people don't buy the old story [that the South is even poorer] and the government does not sell it anymore," Andrei Lankov, expert on Korean studies told The Guardian.
It’s not uncommon for balloons to travel over the border to the north. They frequently hold items like DVDs, anti-North Korean leaflets, and USB drives containing travel photos.
In a comeback to the shower of Choco Pie-filled balloons, North Korea has threatened to shell those responsible in the south.
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