North Korean Defector Welcomed with 100 Boxes of Choco Pies

The taste of freedom is a disc of marshmallow sandwiched between chocolate cakes and wrapped in plastic.

This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES.

Last month, 25-year-old North Korean soldier Oh Chong Song made a mad dash across the Joint Security Area between North and South Korea. His escape was captured on camera: He crashed a car into a ditch, then suffered a series of gunshot wounds before he made it to the other side, where he was airlifted to Anjou University Hospital just south of Seoul and subjected to surgeries to treat his wounds.

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It left him in a daze, and he lay unconscious for days after. But when he came to after more than a week, he immediately asked for Choco Pies, those discs of marshmallow sandwiched between two cookie-cakes, all ensconced in a coating of milk chocolate.

As a reward for his valiance, the Korea Times reported last Tuesday, Orion Confectionery, one of the Choco Pie’s manufacturers in South Korea, delivered 100 boxes of Choco Pie to his hospital bed.

The Choco Pie has been a particularly beloved snack product in South Korea since the mid-70s, when Orion Confectionery began selling it on the mass market. It took a good three decades for Choco Pies to enter North Korea, where the product's scarcity has led it to attain luxury status in the country, a taste of life across the border: Choco Pies were handed to North Korean laborers by South Korean managers in 2004 as the two countries began building the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

Orion did not respond to immediate request for comment from MUNCHIES on Monday regarding how it became aware of Oh’s hankering for Choco Pies and whether it intends to supply him with a lifetime’s worth of these snack cakes, though a number of other outlets have reported that the company has promised him a lifetime supply.

In any case, the company insisted to the Korea Herald that the gesture was not a publicity grab, but, instead, a sincere "welcoming present" meant to recognize the "hardship" he'd undergone.