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During the glory days of the Cold War, the Kremlin was scared shitless by Levi’s, McDonald’s, and other symbols of decadent Western culture. That is no longer the case.

This past October, visitors to Lenin's tomb in Moscow were turned away because the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution wasn’t receiving visitors. Why not? A Coca-Cola–sponsored stage set up to promote the Sochi Olympics was blocking the entrance to his tomb.

In North Korea, however, the regime still considers foreign-made consumer products potentially dangerous. But it’s not blue jeans and Big Macs Kim Jong-un is currently worried about. No, he's trying to keep out the sinister influence of the somewhat tasty South Korean Choco Pie.

Seoul-based Orion Confectionery began producing the Choco Pie in 1974 — a pretty blatant ripoff of the Tennessee-born Moon Pie. Thirty years later, during a period of wary cooperation between the North and South, South Korean businesses began running factories in Kaesong, a 25-square-mile special administrative zone just across the border in North Korea. Today, 125 South Korean companies employ 52,000 North Korean workers there. The North Korean regime is paid about $100 a month for each employee, each one of whom is then given roughly $67 of that.

But Pyongyang forbids South Korean factory managers at Kaesong from paying bonuses or cash incentives to North Korean workers. And so they began rewarding them with Choco Pies.

Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, says that while Choco Pies are “not nearly as good” as the Moon Pie, they're essentially used as currency by North Koreans much like prison inmates might use cigarettes. North Koreans reportedly value Choco Pies at anywhere from 80 cents to $10 — a lot of money in the DPRK — and some Kaesong workers were getting up to 20 Choco Pies per shift.

The North Korean regime was not okay with this. And so state security forces initially attempted to wage a propaganda campaign against Choco Pies, saying “If the products from the ‘neighborhood downstairs’ are enjoyed unconditionally, the ideology of the people could wither at any moment.” And now, according to South Korean news reports, Pyongyang has outright banned the pies from Kaesong. Workers can be rewarded with sausages, instant noodles, coffee, and chocolate bars — but not Choco Pies.

One Western businessman who regularly travels to the DPRK and just returned from 10 days in-country — he requested anonymity to avoid any backlash from the North Korean regime — tells VICE News that he didn’t see a single Choco Pie in Kaesong. “Orion Choco Pie wrappers used to be common trash up on Jangsu Hill in Kaesong,” he says. “This time I didn't see them.”

Though it might seem counterintuitive in the “Hermit Kingdom,” there is, in fact, a fairly high level of awareness there of foreign brands. Christopher Graper, a guide with North Korea specialists Koryo Tours who also curates a huge collection of historical North Korean images and artifacts for his RetroDPRK project, says it’s “very easy to find foreign brands all the way back to the '60s and '70s, even in propaganda images.”

Graper explains that these would have all been “likely gifted from overseas Koreans, or donated in some sort of butter trade with other socialist countries."

North Korea fires ballistic missiles off eastern coast. Read more here.

As serious as Kim clearly is about the capitalist influence of mediocre baked goods, those working to disarm the regime tell VICE News they can’t be bothered.

"I don’t comment on Choco Pies,” says Tony Namkung, a high-level negotiator who has accompanied Governor Bill Richardson, President Jimmy Carter, and Google’s Eric Schmidt to North Korea. “We’re trying to prevent a nuclear arms race in the region.”



然而在朝鲜,政府当局仍然视外国产品为潜在的危险。不过目前令金正恩(Kim Jong-un)忧心的并不是李维斯牛仔裤和麦当劳巨大的“M”形商标。事实上他正在竭力抵制由韩国美味的巧克力派带来的负面影响。

位于首尔的好丽友食品有限公司(Orion Confectionery)自1974年起开始生产巧克力派——山寨版的田纳西小甜饼。30年后的今天,韩国企业开始在朝鲜边境一个名叫开城(Kaesong)的25平方英里的特别行政区办工厂。目前,125家韩国公司雇佣5万2千名朝鲜员工。朝鲜政府按照每位员工每月100美元的标准报酬,其中每位员工大约能得到67美元。


柯蒂斯·梅尔文(Curtis Melvin)是约翰霍普金斯高级国际研究院(Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies)美朝学院的研究员,他说相比小甜饼,巧克力派“还不够好”,它们被朝鲜人当成货币,就像牢狱里的犯人使用香烟一样。据报道在朝鲜,巧克力派值80分至10美元不等,开城员工每个轮班能得到多达20个巧克力派。


一位定期前往朝鲜并于10天前刚刚回国的西方商人告诉VICE新闻在开城他连可口可乐的影子都没见到。“过去,开城长寿山(Jangsu Hill)上堆满了好丽友巧克力派的废弃包装纸,”他说。“这一次我却什么也没看见。”

尽管在“封闭之国”这有悖直觉,但事实上在这里外国品牌的意识相当高。高丽旅社(Koryo Tours)的导游克里斯多夫·格雷珀(Christopher Graper)是一位朝鲜专家,他的“RetroDPRK”项目拥有大量朝鲜历史图片和手工艺品。他说“六七十年代外国品牌随处可见,即使是那些洗脑的形象。”



“对于巧克力派我不予置评,”曾经陪同过比尔·理查森(Bill Richardson)州长、吉米·卡特(Jimmy Carter)总统以及谷歌董事长埃里克·施密特(Eric Schmidt)的高层谈判家托尼·南宫道(Tony Namkung)说道。“我们正尽力避免该地区发生核军备竞赛。”


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