They say life imitates art, but for several people in North Korea that statement is hitting a little too close to home.
A North Korean man has reportedly been sentenced to death by firing squad for smuggling a copy of the wildly successful Netflix series Squid Game into the country.
The North Korean government has neither confirmed nor denied the report.
North Korea has sentenced to death a man who smuggled and sold copies of the Netflix series “Squid Game” after authorities caught seven high school students watching the Korean-language global hit show, sources in the country told RFA.https://t.co/LU5Bt65xkk
— Radio Free Asia (@RadioFreeAsia) November 24, 2021
Squid Game not only resonates with the rich in North Korea, “but also with Pyongyang’s youth, because they are drawn to the unusually violent scenes. Also, one of the characters is a North Korean escapee and they can relate to her.” https://t.co/xAv1XDVo6g
— Soo Kim (@mllesookim) November 17, 2021
While it may not seem like an infraction commensurate with the death penalty, in North Korea the act was in direct violation of the country's recently passed Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture law which strictly prohibits content of this kind being brought into the country with the intent of distribution.
The North Korean man who allegedly brought ‘Squid Game’ into the country has been sentenced to death, according to a new report. https://t.co/RZ7fbS9gep
— Complex Pop Culture (@ComplexPop) November 24, 2021
North Korea? You mean like in Squid Game? pic.twitter.com/QDYyTMnwKT
— Vaush (@VaushV) November 24, 2021
I'm not defending North Korea by any stretch, but would Squid Game would be a better propaganda against capitalism? I'm just asking because this doesn't exactly make sense.
— Alternator Fan SFL (@honda201) November 24, 2021
The smuggler, whose identity remains undisclosed, was discovered selling USB flash drives containing copies of the dystopian South Korean thriller to high school students.
The fallout of this incident is being felt by more than just the man in question and the students who purchased the USBs. Several teachers were implicated and are facing severe consequences too.
A source close to the incident told Radio Free Asia:
"The government is taking this incident very seriously, saying that the students' education was being neglected. The Central Committee dismissed the school principal, their youth secretary, and their homeroom teacher."
"They were also expelled from the [communist] party. It is certain that they will be sent to toil in coal mines or exiled to rural parts of the country, so other school teachers are all worrying that it could happen to them too if one of their students is also caught up in the investigation."
In an ironic twist, it was also reported one teen was absolved of all charges thanks to a likely substantial bribe paid by their wealthy parents.
A smuggler who sold copies of Netflix’s “Squid Game” in North Korea from China has been sentenced to death. A student who bought one of the flash drives received a life sentence, while six others who watched the movie have been sentenced to five years of hard labor. pic.twitter.com/VSvNM3dmNE
— SAY CHEESE! 👄🧀 (@SaycheeseDGTL) November 25, 2021
North Korea sentences man to death by firing squad for sneaking copy of Squid Game into the country. High school student given life sentence for watching it. Teachers sent to toil in mines for failure to prevent student from watching it.https://t.co/CP05W0JthR
— Possum Reviews (@ReviewsPossum) November 24, 2021
Men in north korea are already playing squid game in real life
— 😈SHADOW🔥 (@PrathikNarendra) November 24, 2021
The same guy who just ordered an assassination on a young man in college because he smuggled season 1 of squid games on a usb drive in North Korea… The guy was sentenced to death by fire assault horrible 😑 https://t.co/ykqdml4R5d
— ROSE KENNEDY ♍️🫂 (@Yawfetti) November 28, 2021
Living in North Korea is a real Squid game with Kim Jung-un on the watch.
— MEMPEASEM GOLIATH 🦁 (@JosephAnsong_) November 25, 2021
North korea : lemme show you real squid game 💀
Idiot judiciary system. https://t.co/3Sf9G6V5tZ
— ugh🇮🇳 (@thearrowsatme) November 24, 2021
North Korea has often been criticized for its handling of crimes that, in other countries, would amount to nothing more than petty misdemeanor offenses. With the country's heavy emphasis on maintaining a high level of censorship, the report came as no surprise to many.
But others questioned why a crime associated with a show that features adults strapped for cash fighting to the death in children's games for the amusement of the idle wealthy would be a cause for concern to the North Korean government.
They also questioned the sources of the reports.
"North Korea executed someone for watching Squid Game!" "Kim Jong Un is banning leather coats to stop people from stealing his look!"
Y'all also said that man was dead so 🤷🏾
— Not pregnant just eating good.. (@I_Hate_Ted_Cruz) November 27, 2021
Has "Squid Game" been smuggled into North Korea? Most experts doubt it.
Citing North Korea's restrictive border and trade measures, those familiar with the situation on the ground told NK News that the Netflix show is unlikely to have entered the country.https://t.co/66DBBomg9y
— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) November 28, 2021
The ridiculous, bogus story claiming North Korea killed/imprisoned people for watching Squid Game (fake news from a US gov't propaganda outlet) doesn't even make sense, because a DPRK media outlet praised the show for depicting "beastly" capitalist societyhttps://t.co/yllXdp1Vxm
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) November 26, 2021
Sources also reported the government launched an investigation to identify exactly how the man was able to smuggle copies of the show into the country despite strict border restrictions.
The entire ordeal is shaping up to be worthy of its own show on Netflix.