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Death sentence for North Korean man after smuggling copies of ‘Squid Game’ to students

By Kara Santos Published Nov 25, 2021 2:02 pm

A man who smuggled copies of South Korean Netflix series Squid Game into North Korea has been sentenced to death, after authorities caught high school students watching the show. 

Independent news agency Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday (Nov. 23) that the series was smuggled in from China on USB flash drives and that the smuggler faces death by firing squad.

“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,” said the RFA report.

In December 2020, North Korea passed the “Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture” act, which prohibits the entry and dissemination of cultural material like films, plays, music and books in the country. 

The act is mainly aimed at preventing the spread of media from South Korea and the US, imposing a maximum penalty of death on those found distributing or consuming outlawed media.

In April this year, another North Korean man was publicly executed for selling drives and CDs containing South Korean material.

According to a report in Variety, Squid Game has been a source of anger in the dictatorship. North Korean propaganda site Arirang Meari previously blasted the high-concept survival drama as depicting the “sad reality of a beastly South Korean society.”

Squid Game broke records and has become Netflix’s most popular original series in its initial release in September, according to the streamer. 

The RFA report suggests that there is great public anxiety over the fate of the high school students and that more people could be implicated in the investigation.

The authorities will be be interrogating students to find out how Squid Game was smuggled in due to the current pandemic-related closed borders. The streaming service Netflix is not even available in China, the country where the alleged drives originated, but Squid Game and other series have reportedly been pirated widely in the country.