Choco Pie Rules Black Market in N.Korea

The South Korean snack Choco Pie is a sought-after delicacy in North Korea, selling for US$9.50 a piece in the black market. Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper on Sunday said North Korean workers in the joint-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex are given two or three Choco Pies a day by South Korean factory owners and sell them in the black market for extra cash.

Nearly 2.5 million Choco Pies are traded each month in the black market. The monthly wage for North Korean workers in the Kaesong Industrial Park is $57, so they can earn an extra sixth by selling a single Choco Pie.

The snacks are traded via North Korean middlemen in the border city of Sinuiju. It appears that specialized markets have even been formed, with groups trading exclusively in Choco Pie. Each trader group has some 30 members.

The black market has been fueled by the explosive popularity of the South Korean product among Kaesong workers, who have spread the word about how tasty it is. An official at the Unification Ministry in Seoul says, "I heard that Choco Pie wrappers are rarely found in garbage in the Kaesong Industrial Park" suggesting that they are all sold on.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 12, 2010 10:50 KST