A man in North Korea has been sentenced to death by firing squad for smuggling copies of Squid Game into the country. He was taken after authorities caught seven high school students watching the hugely popular show.
According to Radio Free Asia, a U.S.-headquartered independent news agency, the series was smuggled in from China via USB flash drives. Their report stated the fate of the students who were caught watching the show.
“A student who bought a drive received a life sentence, while six others who watched the show have been sentenced to five years hard labor, and teachers and school administrators have been fired and face banishment to work in remote mines,” it read.
North Korea has been notorious for blocking out any semblance of Western influence or the same from its neighbor country, South Korea. Last December, they passed the “Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture” act, a mandate that forbids the entry and distribution of cultural material like films, plays, music and books in the country.
Once caught with such contraband, violators face extreme penalties that range from labor camps to public execution.
Given such punishments, it makes one wonder as to why anyone would risk smuggling illegal media.
As per one Pyongyang resident, the premise of Squid Game related too well with North Korean citizens. “They say that the content is similar to the lives of Pyongyang officials who fight in the foreign currency market as if it is a fight for life and death,” he told RFA.
He continued: “It not only resonates with the rich people but also with Pyongyang’s youth because they are drawn to the unusually violent scenes. They secretly watch the show under their blankets at night on their portable media players.”
Squid Game tells the story of debt-ridden individuals who join a deadly competition for a chance to win 45.6 billion KRW (PHP 1.9 billion). It was a Netflix smash hit, going on to become one of the streaming platform’s biggest titles this year.