North denies Kaesong workers Choco Pie treatNorth Korea has decided that Choco Pies should no longer be given to workers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which is jointly run with South Korea, Southern businessmen based in the venture park said yesterday.
Several South Korean businessmen told Yonhap News Agency that many North Korean managers from Pyongyang in charge of the 53,000 workers at the complex demanded that factory owners stop providing them with the sweet pies, without giving a detailed reason.
“In mid-May, a North Korean manager told me that it would be good to offer meat or rice for the workers instead of the Choco Pie,” a South Korean businessman told Yonhap.
Some North Korean managers even demanded hard currency such as U.S. dollars instead of the Choco Pies, the businessmen said.
Many South Korean company owners who run factories in the complex have offered the snack, which costs about $5 for a 20-piece box, to the North Korean workers as a sort of “bonus” for overtime. Each worker is allowed to receive up to 10 pieces under internal rules set by the South Korean businessmen.
The North Korean workers, however, allegedly did not eat every pie they received and instead sold them to local black markets, which have become popular in the Communist state.
“The pies were increasingly distributed by the workers to the local markets in North Korea and became popular there,” a South Korean government official told the Korea JoongAng Daily by phone.
“North Korean authorities appear to try to crack down on the snack from the capitalist South, just like they did on the people secretly watching South Korean drama or movies.”
In April, venting its anger at the Park Geun-hye administration’s policies on North Korean affairs, Pyongyang said in a letter to an inter-Korean civic group that it would not receive any humanitarian aid shipped into the country without prior approval.
BY KIM HEE-JIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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