North Korean Defector Rewarded With Lifetime Supply Of Chocolate Pies

A North Korean soldier who successfully defected to South Korea last month survived multiple surgeries, and when he woke up he said the first thing he wanted to eat was a Choco Pie. Now he has been rewarded with a lifetime supply of them.

According to Reuters, 24-year-old Oh Chong Song was shot while crossing the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea in November. He was taken to a military hospital and underwent two major surgeries to treat the gunshot wounds and also a severe parasite infection. During his treatment, he said that when he recovered enough to eat, he wanted a Choco Pie.

Choco Pies are a famous snack produced by South Korean snack company Orion. They are made of marshmallow cream sandwiched between two small, circular cakes and covered in chocolate, like a Moon Cake. They're not particularly expensive or indulgent in South Korea, they're just an ordinary snack cake, but according to a CNN article from 2014, Moon Cakes are a rare, exotic treat in North Korea. They first entered North Korea from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where South Korean businesses employed North Korean workers and gave them Choco Pies as snacks. Many workers would take the pies home to sell or to share with their families.

Choco Pies commanded up to $10 apiece on the black market, before North Korea's government banned them in 2014 over concerns that the chocolate marshmallow cakes were basically South Korean propaganda. Activists have even been known to send Choco Pies into North Korea on balloons, in an attempt to disseminate information and show people in North Korea that there are good things outside.

According to Korea Times, Orion, the company that has made Choco Pies since 1974, heard that Oh had mentioned Choco Pies in the hospital, and they've promised him a lifetime supply of them. They sent 100 boxes to him in the hospital, though he's reportedly not yet well enough to eat them.

"We sent the Choco Pies as a welcoming present to Oh, who came to Korea after going through hardship. It was not an act for publicity," said a spokesperson for the company. It sounds like Choco Pies definitely belong among the most popular snack foods of the last 10 decades.