Balloons Carrying Choco Pie Sent to North Korea

Seoul. North Korean refugees living in South Korea launched balloons carrying cakes across the heavily fortified border Friday to help their former compatriots celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday.

Most balloons dispatched across the frontier by activists carry propaganda leaflets calling for the overthrow of the North's regime.

But on Friday about 20 large balloons released from Gangwha island west of Seoul carried a total 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of Choco Pie – a South Korean-made snack which is hugely popular among those North Koreans who can acquire it.

"This is a token of our brotherly love for the people living in the North," said Song Si-Yon, a police clerk in the North before she came South in 2007.

"We hope this will help North Koreans celebrate Lunar New Year's Day in a happier mood."

Choco Pie, with marshmallow filling and chocolate covering, is given out as a daily snack to more than 40.000 North Korean workers at a Seoul-invested industrial estate at Kaesong in the North.

Last month, a different Seoul-based group called North Korea Peace launched balloons carrying about 800 pairs of socks across the border to the North, where they can be worn during the bitter winter or easily exchanged for food.

One pair of socks is thought to fetch about 10 kg of corn – enough to sustain a person for a month in the hungry communist state.

Daily necessities such as socks are precious in the impoverished state, which pours money and resources into building up its 1.2-million strong armed forces under its Songun (military-first) policy.

The leaflet launches infuriate Pyongyang, which has threatened to open fire at launch sites.

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