The circulation of Choco Pies in North Korea—and particularly among Kaesong workers—has become a surprising marker for so many features of the regime: the role of the black market; the gradual penetration of South Korean cultural influences; the pervasive controls, captured in efforts by North Korean authorities to limit their distribution. My colleague Marc Noland has even gotten into disputes about how to model the Choco Pie market. As it turns out, this is a serious question, as it speaks to the real exchange rate (in effect, the price of Choco Pies allows us to construct a Choco Pie index parallel to the Big Mac index used to identify PPP exchange rates).
Now, the Committee on Human Rights will use the humble Choco Pie to bring attention to the human rights situation in the North. This week, our readers in Washington can see what all the fuss is about by heading to Faragut Square on October 30 for a free Choco Pie. While there, you can also learn about the Committee’s research on North Korea (ours included) as well as its role in the upcoming Commission of Inquiry hearings in Washington.