A North Korean man was reportedly sentenced to death by authorities after he was caught distributing copies of the Netflix drama Squid Game, which Pyongyang says reflects South Korea’s “hideous” society.
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), the person was smuggling copies of the Korean hit Netflix via USB drives and selling them in North Korea. He was sentenced to death after authorities discovered that seven high school students were watching a series of nine thrillers in class.
Last month, a North Korean propaganda website said the show exposes the reality of South Korean capitalist culture, where “corruption and wicked villains are commonplace,” and “an unequal society in which the poor are treated like chess pieces for the rich.”
“It is said to make people aware of the sad reality of a monstrous South Korean society in which people are forced into extreme competition and their humanity is being destroyed,” says Ariranga Miri’s North Korean website.
The student who bought the USB drive with the series was sentenced to life in prison, while six other students were sentenced to five years of hard labor, RFA reported, citing sources in North Korea.
“It all started last week when a high school student secretly bought a USB drive of South Korean drama Squid Game and watched it with one of his best friends in class,” said an unnamed law enforcement source in North Korea’s Hamgyeong province. the Korean service RFA reported on Monday.
“A friend told a few other students who were interested and they shared a flash drive with them. They were caught by censors in 109 Sangmu, who received a tip, ”the source added.
RFA said North Korea has a government strike group called the Surveillance Bureau Group 109 that targets individuals who watch videos that are banned in the country.
North Korea imposes harsh fines or jail time on anyone caught entertaining in South Korea or copying South Koreans as leader of Kim Jong-un, who is waging a war against outside influence and calling for better home entertainment.
Late last year, a sweeping new “anti-reactionary thought” law was introduced, providing for the maximum death penalty for viewing, receiving or distributing media from countries including South Korea and the United States.
Yenmi Park, a North Korean defector, described Netflix’s most watched show as “a very accurate portrayal of the plight of North Koreans in South Korea and the path they go through to become free.”
However, she expressed concern about the show’s apparent demonization of inequality.
“Inequality is a sign of opportunity,” she said in an October video on her YouTube channel. “When I was in North Korea, everyone was terribly poor. When I came to South Korea and America, I heard that there are trillionaires, billionaires, and these are the people who founded companies like Tesla, SpaceX, and invented new things. “
“In North Korea, everyone is poor because no one is allowed to invent, and there is so much demonization and hostility towards wealth. I constantly tell people that inequality does not mean poverty, poverty is what we need to fight, ”continued Pak.
“In the United States, there is an opportunity to earn honest money, feed your children and get an education, while in North Korea you cannot,” she added. “This is why it worries me now that the media is focusing on inequality, portraying the main [‘Squid Game’] an undisciplined character is a bad father … like a hero. “
The director of Squid Games said the popular show is likely to return in a second season.
“We’re in talks about a second season,” writer-director Hwang Dong Hyuk said in an interview on November 8. “It’s all in my head. I have a storyline, a general outline, so we’re in the brainstorming stage.
“I’m going to go ahead and say that there will be a second season, but when, I can’t tell you now,” added Hwang.
Reuters contributed to this report.