A North Korean man has reportedly been sentenced to death by firing squad. His crime? Smuggling copies of the hit Netflix show Squid Game into the country on USB drives and SD cards. According to a report from Radio Free Asia (via Kotaku), the man believed to be behind smuggling the show into North Korea has been apprehended and will be punished in the most extreme manner.
Sources also tell the network that a student who purchased a USB drive containing the show has been handed a life sentence, while six others who simply watched the show are to serve five years of hard labour. Staff at the school have also been fired, and could be sent to work in the mines.
“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,” a source in North Hamgyong province’s law enforcement told RFA. “The friend told several other students, who became interested, and they shared the flash drive with them.” Ultimately, it seems government censors received an anonymous tip and harsh action was taken against everyone involved.
What exactly is the problem with Squid Game in North Korea, then?
Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported on a state-run North Korean website that claims the Netflix series, created by South Korean director Hwang Dong-hyuk, depicts an “unequal society where the strong exploit the weak” and brandishes it a reflection of the “South Korean capitalist society where mankind is annihilated by extreme competition”.
They’re not fans, then. It’s not just Squid Game, though. It remains illegal for any North Korean citizen to watch any South Korean media. In January this year, North Korea introduced tough new laws against enjoying South Korean entertainment, with punishments that can range from fines and up to 15 years in a prison camp all the way through to the death penalty.
“Law enforcement is not playing around with the new law, and they are fiercely trying to root out every instance of capitalist culture,” a source previously told RFA.