University News

Group sells snacks to aid refugees

LiNK members hope Choco Pie grams bolster awareness of North Korean issues

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 9, 2015

Members of the student group Liberation in North Korea sold Choco Pie grams in the lobby of J. Walter WIlson Tuesday through Thursday as part of fundraising efforts aimed at helping North Korean refugees.

The student group Liberation in North Korea is holding its first-ever Choco Pie gram fundraiser Tuesday through Thursday to spread awareness about the country’s political corruption and raise money for North Korean refugees. Choco Pie grams are small bags stuffed with candies and a Choco Pie — a chocolate snack with marshmallow filling — that can be purchased for $3 and sent to designated students’ mailboxes, group leaders said.

Choco Pies are a symbolic snack in South Korea, but they are banned in North Korea, said Afra Rahman ’17, treasurer of LiNK. They have since become a popular black market treat in North Korea, said Anthony Jang ’15, executive board member and former president of LiNK.

“When I first found out Choco Pie was banned in North Korea, I thought it was ridiculous,” Rahman said. North Koreans “don’t have the right to eat Choco Pie for no reason,” she said. Choco Pie grams serve as a reminder to the Brown community to be thankful for freedoms that can be taken for granted, such as the right to eat certain foods, she added.

The snacks signify loosening the rigid restrictions in North Korea, Jang said. “People realize that even though (Choco Pie) is a South Korean snack, they can identify with it,” he said.

Many activists have used Choco Pies to convince North Koreans of the corruption of their political system, Jang said. For instance, some North Korean human rights activists have sent Choco Pies across the border in balloons along with USBs and DVDs containing information about the outside world, he said.

LiNK’s two main goals are to spread awareness about North Korean issues and to help North Korean refugees, Jang said. “A lot of people have become desensitized about North Korea. … it has become the butt of a joke, like with ‘The Interview,’” he added. LiNK hopes to bring to light the serious human rights violations in North Korea and to shift the discussion surrounding Kim Jong Un’s regime, he added.

LiNK is  also committed to raising funds to donate to its affiliated national NGO, the LiNK Foundation, which aims to help North Korean refugees who have escaped to China in the hopes of eventually relocating to South Korea or the United States, Jang said. Even once in China, North Koreans are not necessarily safe, as they face high risks of deportation by the Chinese government, starvation or being sold into prostitution. LiNK strives to help these refugees find a better life, Jang added.

“I was born and raised in Vietnam and Choco Pie is kind of a popular thing,” said Hai Anh Pahm, who bought a Choco Pie gram for her roommate so that she could try one.

“I knew that (the fundraiser) was about North Korea but I didn’t really look into the issue when I was ordering it,” she said, adding, “When I found out what the issue was, I thought that this was a meaningful event and that I probably should have read about it before.”

Group leaders hope to raise $200 or more through the fundraiser and are pleased with sales from the first day, Rahman said. Choco Pie grams can be purchased in the lobby of J. Walter Wilson between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. or online through the Facebook event.

  • whut

    what are they gonna use the money for tho?? why does the article not tell us?? is it because this is fake journalism

    • whut

      The BDH isn’t the pinnacle of journalism, but I’m afraid you’re pretty bad at reading…