A North Korean man who smuggled ‘Squid Game’ into the country is to be executed by firing squad, while a highschooler student who bought a USB drive with the show will be jailed for life, report says

Squid Game
North Korean defector Kang Sae-byeok (Player 067) in Squid Game.
  • A North Korean high school student watched "Squid Game" with his best friend who shared it with others.
  • They were caught by censors after a tip-off, according to a report from Radio Free Asia.
  • One of them got off the hook thanks to rich parents who paid a $3,000 bribe, the outlet reported

North Korea is coming down hard on those who distribute or watch Netflix's hit show "Squid Game."

The reclusive country has sentenced a man who smuggled and sold the dystopian drama to death by firing squad, while a high-schooler who bought a drive containing the show received a life sentence, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA,) citing sources within the country.

Another six high-schoolers who watch the series have also been sentenced to five years of hard labor, reported the RFA. Their supervisors have also been punished, with teachers and school administrators fired. They may be banished to work in remote mines, the media outlet added.

The South Korean 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.

"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 law enforcement source in North Hamgyong province told RFA's Korean service. "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 is punishing minors under a law that penalizes the distribution, watching, or keeping of media from capitalist countries like South Korea and the US, the RFA added.

"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 thanks to 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 north. 

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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