North Korea appears to have come down hard on people who distribute and watch “Squid Game.”
Citing unnamed sources, Radio Free Asia said a North Korean man was sentenced to death for smuggling the show.
Seven high school students received harsh sentences for watching the show, RFA reported.
North Korea appears to be coming down hard on those who distribute or watch Netflix’s hit show “Squid Game.”
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), a man who smuggled and sold the dystopian drama has been sentenced to death by firing squad, while a highschooler who bought a USB drive containing the show was sentenced to life in jail.
Another six high-schoolers who watched the show were sentenced to five years of hard labor, RFA reported, citing unnamed sources inside North Korea. Their supervisors were also punished, with teachers and school administrators fired, possibly to be banished to work in remote mines, RFA said.
RFA is a US government-funded non-profit news service that serves audiences in Asia. It says its aim is to “provide accurate and timely news and information to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press.”
The South Korean television series tells the story of 456 debt-laden people competing for 45.6 billion won ($38.3 million) of prize money in brutal survival games.
A law enforcement source in North Hamgyong province told RFA’s Korean service: “This all started last week when a high school student secretly bought a USB flash drive containing the South Korean drama Squid Game and watched it with one of his best friends in class. The friend told several other students, who became interested, and they shared the flash drive with them.” The students were caught by government censors after a tip-off, the source told RFA.
It’s the first time the North Korean government has punished minors under a law that penalizes the distribution, watching, or keeping of media from capitalist countries like South Korea and the US, RFA said.
“The government is taking this incident very seriously, saying that the students’ education was being neglected,” RFA’s source said.
One of the students got off the hook because they had rich parents who paid a $3,000 bribe, the outlet reported.
Last month, a state-run North Korean propaganda website said the Netflix drama highlighted how South Korea is where “corruption and immoral scoundrels are commonplace.” The show also featured a North Korean defector whose story highlighted her arduous escape from the country.
Despite the threat of retribution, smuggled, illegal copies of “Squid Game” have been making their way into North Korea.
A previous article from Radio Free Asia noted that North Koreans found the financial struggles of the show’s characters “relatable.”
The massive hit is Netflix’s most-watched show ever.
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