A North Korean man has been sentenced to death for smuggling Netflix to the country, a student also that bought it was sentenced to life imprisonment and six others who were caught watching the show was sentenced to five years hard labour.
The alleged smuggler, whose name was not released, will reportedly be sentenced to death via a firing squad, according to RFA.
The offence that earned him capital punishment was that he brought in Netflix to North Korea and sold some copies of Netflix’s hit TV series Squid Game to several high school students who were reportedly caught watching the show in class.
Netflix is a website that allows you to watch movies and television shows whenever you want and as often as you want. A monthly subscription gives you access to all titles available on Netflix for your country, which you can watch on your computer, mobile device, smart TV, or other digital media player.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported this week that the man allegedly acquired a copy of the dystopian South Korean show in China and illegally smuggled it into North Korea. Copies of the show were then allegedly sold on USB flash drives and SD cards.
Some of the students’ teachers and administrators have also reportedly been fired over the incident, and sources told RFA they believed that those teachers and administrators would also be sent to work at hard labour or face exile to rural sections of the country.
Last year, North Korea passed the Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture act, which prohibits the entry and dissemination of materials including films, plays, music and books into the country. The law is particularly aimed at preventing the spread of media from capitalist nations including South Korea and the U.S., and anyone violating the law could face life in prison or death.
This incident marks the first time North Korean authorities are applying the recently passed act to minors, according to RFA. Now, authorities are scouring markets for memory storage devices and video CDs containing any foreign media, one source told the news outlet.
Squid Game has become Netflix’s most-watched show ever, ranking first in 94 countries and viewed in 142 million homes worldwide after only a month, according to the company’s third-quarter earnings report. The series is also the first Korean original to top Netflix’s consumer-facing Top 10 popularity chart.
Sources told RFA that the show’s dystopian world, in which indebted people are violently pitted against one another in traditional children’s games to win huge cash prizes, resonates with North Koreans living under totalitarian leadership.
Another resident of North Pyongan province, bordering China, told RFA in an earlier report that the show has also resonated with smugglers who risk their lives to bring goods into the nation’s normally tightly regulated borders which have seen even tighter security since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.