A smuggler who brought the South Korean Netflix hit series Squid Game into North Korea via China has been sentenced to death.
Reports said the firing squad would carry out the execution; meanwhile, 7 high school students caught watching the show were arrested.
According to Radio Free Asia, the student who purchased the flash drive containing the series was sentenced to life in prison, and the 6 others who had watched the show have been punished to five years of hard labor.
Sources revealed the school teachers and administrators were fired and forced into doing heavy manual work in remote mines.
RFA reported North Korea established a law in 2020 on the "Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture" that entails a maximum death penalty for anyone who watches, possesses, or distributes media from capitalist countries such as South Korea and the USA.
"Law enforcement is not playing around with the new law, and they are fiercely trying to root out every instance of capitalist culture," an insider told the outlet. "But times are tough due to the pandemic, so even the police are struggling to make ends meet. Putting a few bucks in their pocket will make them go away if you get caught watching South Korean media."
An informant from the authorities body in North Hamgyong province that shares a border with China said one high school student watched the show before sharing them with his peers in the school.
"The friend told several other students, who became interested, and they shared the flash drive with them," the source claimed. "They were caught by the censors in 109 Sangmu, who had received a tipoff."
Following the arrest, the law enforcement agency conducted a thorough search for other foreign media and hardware devices in the nearby area which caused the whole neighborhood to panic in "fear" of their lives.
"The residents are all trembling in fear because they will be mercilessly punished for buying or selling memory storage devices, no matter how small," another source stressed. "But regardless of how strict the government's crackdown seems to be, rumors are circulating that among the seven arrested students, one with rich parents was able to avoid punishment because they bribed the authorities with $3,000."
Squid Game is a show containing graphic and violent elements telling the story of 456 South Koreans in debt battling in a series of life-or-death children's games to win $38 million.
According to the insider, the show's essence "parallels" the reality for some in North Korea, especially the wealthy residents of Pyongyang.
"They say the content is similar to the lives of Pyongyang officials who fight in the foreign currency market as if it is a fight for life and death," the source added. "It not only resonates with the rich people but also with Pyongyang's youth because they are drawn to the unusually violent scenes."