Fresh Ideas from the Classroom

Choco Pie: A Bite of Freedom

Dec 18 2015 (IPS) - How could a chocolate snack challenge a regime? Surprisingly, in North Korea, it can.

On the 30th of July 2014, a group of 200 people gathered in Paju, a small South Korean city situated at the borders with North Korea. South Koreans, along with North Koreans defectors, grouped to send to the other side 50 oversized balloons, filled with boxes of Choco Pie, a well-known South Korean snack.

The North Korean totalitarianism banned the snack as a symbol of the American capitalism strongly fought in any way by the North Korean dictatorship.

As reported by Sokeel Park in The Guardian, Choco Pies have always played an important role in the Korean Hallyu (the Korean Wave of pop culture), one of the most effective soft power tools used by South Korea to spread its culture all around the world. North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, saw it as a potential contaminator and an enemy for his regime. After banning it, he decided to create a domestic competitor of it as well. On one hand, taking this commercial measure created an alternative to the consumers. On the other hand, stopping the so-called sweet revolution, he again took away the choice from the citizens.

The Cold War between the two Koreas has started long ago, after WWII, which provoked the breakup of lots of families as well as a strengthening the regime. The outlawing of the Choco Pie is just an example of what it is going on inside the country. It is just a hint of how human rights are not respected at all. This apparently absurd privation shows also how North Korean people have no voice in their own country as well as outside it.

In North Korea, we cannot even talk about censorship of means of communication, because everything belongs to the dictator and it is controlled from the beginning by the political headquarter.

Have you ever thought about the fact that we are shown only images about the regime ceremonies?

When we watch the society celebrating the oligarchic government acting like robots, do we perceive them as regular human beings? And still, they are.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the official title of North Korea) is actually a huge bubble of violence, in which no one can neither enter nor escape. The country has closed its commercial doors in order to preserve itself and to cut off its population form the occidental world.

“Democracy grows from within, and external actors can only support it.” That is what we can read among the four key recommendations resulting from the International Round Table on Democracy, Peace and Security: The Role of the United Nations, in 2010. However, it is difficult to make this principle reality if we are in a non-existent society with non-existent rights. It is hard to believe that North Korean people by themselves could stand the systematic violence committed by the oligarchic group of soldiers who keep the country as a social prison.

If they refuse everything coming from the outside world, why should we turn our back on them? They deserve the right to bite a pie freely, don’t they?


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