A man who allegedly smuggled copies of Netflix’s hit series “Squid Game” in North Korea has been sentenced to death by firing squad, according to a report.
This man smuggled copies of the show on USB drives from China into North Korea, despite efforts by North Korean authorities to keep it out of the country, where foreign media is banned.
“Squid Game has been able to enter the country on memory storage devices such as USB flash drives and SD cards, which are smuggled in by ship, and then make their way inland. 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,” a resident of Pyongsong said.
One high-school student who bought one of the flash drives was caught watching the show with six more of his friends, and now all of them will be punished by the law.
The student who bought the flash drive received a life sentence, while the other six who watched the footage have been sentenced to five years of hard labor. Teachers and administrators at the school were also punished by being fired or being forced to labor in remote mines.
A law enforcement source in North Hamgyong province, which shares a border with China stated that a high school student watched “Squid Game” in a classroom with one of his friends: “The friend told several other students, who became interested, and they shared the flash drive with them,” the source said. “They were caught by the censors in 109 Sangmu, who had received a tipoff.”
North Korea passed a law last year on the “Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture,” so anyone who is caught for watching, possession or distributing media from capitalist countries like South Korea and the US, it means a maximum penalty of death.
This violent show is about 456 debt-ridden South Koreans playing a series of life-or-death children’s games for a chance to win $38 million and it resonates with North Koreans, especially the rich residents of Pyongyang, sources said.
“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,” a man said.
This is believed to be the first time North Korea is applying the new law in a case involving minors, after which authorities started scouring nearby markets for other memory storage devices and foreign media after the students were caught, one North Hamgyong source said.
“The residents are all trembling in fear because they will be mercilessly punished for buying or selling memory storage devices, no matter how small. But regardless of how strict the government’s crackdown seems to be, rumors are circulating that among the seven arrested students, one with rich parents was able to avoid punishment because they bribed the authorities with $3,000.”
“Law enforcement is not playing around with the new law, and they are fiercely trying to root out every instance of capitalist culture, But times are tough due to the pandemic, so even the police are struggling to make ends meet. Putting a few bucks in their pocket will make them go away if you get caught watching South Korean media,” a source said.