The defected North Korean soldier has been awarded lifetime Choco Pies
The Korea Herald confirmed this week that a North Korean soldier who embarked last month on a dramatic defection through the Demilitarized Zone was given a lifetime supply of Choco Pies.
The soldier, known by his family name "Oh," had reportedly been asking for some Choco Pies when he woke up in hospital after being shot during his defeat.
Since 1974, Orion, the South Korean snack maker, declared they would give Oh a lifetime supply of the treat, as long as he remained in South Korea. The company has sent 100 boxes to the emergency room of Oh, but he still has enough to heal to be able to eat them.
An Orion official said, "We sent the choco pies to Oh, who came to Korea after going through hardship, as a welcome gift. It was not a marketing act.
Choco Pies are banned in North Korea
For years, the treats have been making their way through the Kaesong Industrial Complex to the North Korean black market, where they sell for up to $10. The complex was a joint venture by the two governments to enable South Korean businesses to operate across the border.
At one point there were 52,000 North Koreans working, earning about $100 a month, but South Korean companies were prohibited from compensating with cash for overtime. Instead, for each employee, they also gave out Choco Pies, about a dozen a day, which could then be shared or sold with friends and family.
According to Chosun Ilbo of South Korea, nearly 2.5 million Choco Pies were sold on the black market each month in 2010.
Possibly concerned about the success of what was basically a delicious piece of South Korean propaganda, the North Korean government initiated its own propaganda campaign claiming that Choco Pies were harmful to the body before enforcing the Kaesong outright ban.