It’s utter madness to be writing this, as the last time I checked, it was 2021 — but a man has been sentenced to death in North Korea for smuggling copies of Netflix’s Squid Game.
“A student who bought a drive received a life sentence, while six others who watched the show have been sentenced to five years hard labour, and teachers and school administrators have been fired and face banishment to work in remote mines,” RFA reported.
According to the report, a high school student “secretly bought” a flash drive that contained the smash-hit series and then watched the show with a friend who told other students about it. This simple act has earned the student life imprisonment.
The report also relayed that the “smuggler” faces death by firing squad as a result of his actions.
The sentencing, while barbaric and harsh, falls under the Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture act, which North Korea passed in December 2020. Under the ruling, books, plays, music and films can be prohibited so as to stop the spread of media from South Korea and the US.
There were also reports in April 2021 that a man had been publicly executed for selling drives and CDs containing South Korean material. According to widespread reports, in April this year, a man was publicly executed for selling drives and CDs containing South Korean material.
While Squid Game — which follows 456 debt-riddled people who compete in deadly games for the chance to clear their debt — has been celebrated by many for its searing portrayal of capitalism and the huge chasm between the have and have nots in South Korea. However, the feeling in North Korea was the exact opposite with the government decrying the series shortly after its release.
North Korean propaganda site Arirang Meari, went so far as to lambast Squid Game for depicting the “sad reality of a beastly South Korean society.”
“Squid Game gained popularity because it exposes the reality of South Korean capitalist culture,” the post said, going on to say it shows “a world where only money matters — a hell-like horror” and where “corruption and immoral scoundrels are commonplace.”
The RFA report also references the concerns of the public over what will happen to the high school students who watched the series and the others who might be implicated in the situation.
Squid Game has become Netflix’s most popular series ever, with 142 million member households globally watching the series in its first four weeks on the platform. Bloomberg also relayed that, based on the data Netflix has provided, people have spent more than 1.4 billion hours watching the show.