Radio Free Asia reported that after authorities caught seven high school students watching the Netflix series Squid Game, the man who smuggled copies into North Korea was sentenced to death.
RFA, an independent U.S-based news agency, reported that despite the country's best efforts to keep out foreign media, the popular drama had arrived in the country.
Quoting sources, RFA reported that the series was smuggled in from China on USB flash drives and that the smuggler faces death by a firing squad.
One student who bought the drive was sentenced to life imprisonment, while six others caught watching the show were sentenced to five years of hard labor.
Teachers and school administrators have been fired and are sure to be banished to work in remote mines.
Recently, North Korea passed an act called "Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture," which forbids the entry and spread of music, films, plays, or books from other countries. This is in a quest to stamp out the infiltration of foreign influences to create "a firm political climate."
The newly passed law specifically aims to prevent the spread of cultural material and ideologies from capitalist countries, especially South Korea and the United States.
Anyone found smuggling, distributing, or consuming such content will be punished, with the maximum penalty being death.
Reports show that this law has been implemented. According to widespread reports, in April 2021, a man caught selling drives and CDs was publicly executed. But this is the first time the law will be implemented in a case involving minors.
The South Korean series, Squid Game, has been particularly upsetting for the dictatorship. According to RFA, "the show's dystopian world - in which marginalized people are pitted against one another in traditional children's games for huge cash prizes and losing players are put to death - resonates with North Koreans in risky occupations and insecure positions."
Arirang Maeri, a North Korean propaganda site, describes the drama as depicting the "sad reality of a beastly South Korean society."
The RFA's report shows that the public is overwhelmed by anxiety. There is widespread fear over the fate of those high school students and the inference for others who may be implicated in the course of investigating the case.
It also said that a lengthy investigation would most likely reveal a whole chain of distribution. This means that this incident may trigger even more arrests with more penalties.
According to one of RFA's sources:
"The residents are all trembling in fear because they will be mercilessly punished for buying or selling memory storage devices, no matter how small."
There were also reports on how Squid Game was pirated on about 60 streaming sites in China and how South Korea's ambassador has asked Beijing to take action over illegal viewing.