A North Korean man and others faces execution by firing squad for smuggling a copy of the hit Netflix series, Squid Game into the country.
North Korea has a strict law regarding foreign media materials being in circulation within it’s territory and any one found in possession of such materials faces severe punishment.
The smuggler, a student, is said to have returned from China with a digital version of the hit South Korean series stored on a hidden USB flash drive.
But after selling copies to several people including fellow students he was caught out by the country’s surveillance services.
It is understood he will now be executed by firing squad – one of the grim methods by which characters in the series are also killed.
It is believed that the arrests took place in the country’s North Hamgyong province which borders with China over the last week.
Radio Free Asia reported that one student who bought a copy of the drive has since received a life sentence, while six others who watched the show have been sentenced to five years hard labor.
North Korea has a strict ban on material from the West and South Korea being allowed into the country and officials are now carrying out searches at the students’ school to find anymore foreign media.
Some teachers are said to have been fired or could face being banished to work in remote mines as punishment.
‘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 told the publication.
The source said the pair discussed the series with friends who became interested and bought copies from him.
Squid Game’s dystopian world in which heavily indebted people are pitted against each other in Korean children’s games with losing players being put to death clearly resonates with North Koreans living under dictatorship.
But the students were then caught by the government’s surveillance service – 109 Sangmu – who had ‘received a tipoff’ that they were watching a Western TV show.
The arrest of the seven students marks the first time that the government is applying the newly passed law on the ‘Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture,’ in a case involving minors, according to the source.
The law carries a maximum penalty of death for watching, keeping, or distributing media from capitalist countries, particularly from South Korea and the US.
Punishments don’t stop with the smuggler and students who viewed the video, however, as others with no connection to the incident will also be held responsible, according to the source.
The source added the government was taking the incident ‘very seriously’,
”The Central Committee has dismissed the school principal, their youth secretary, and their homeroom teacher.”