'Squid Game' Smuggler Sentenced to Death in North Korea After Students Watched Netflix Series

North Korea has taken a horrific stance against a man who smuggled copies of Netflix's South Korean mega-hit Squid Game into the country. Variety, via Radio Free Asia (RFA), reports that the man has been sentenced to death by firing squad. RFA, a U.S.-based independent news source, reports that the series was smuggled into the country on flash drives and North Korean authorities caught a bunch of teenagers watching it. 

"A student who bought a drive received a life sentence, while six others who watched the show have been sentenced to five years hard labor, and teachers and school administrators have been fired and face banishment to work in remote mines," RFA reports. North Korea instated the Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture Act in Dec. 2020, which "prohibits the entry and dissemination of cultural material like films, plays, music, and books in the country," particularly from South Korea and The U.S. as a means of control. The RFA also implied that the harsh sentencing that these people faced has made others extremely uneasy over who else could be implicated in the ongoing investigation.

Squid Game is the most successful Netflix original in the history of the streaming service. The survival drama follows a number of people who have been invited to join a series of deadly challenges that are all based on childhood games. The individuals chosen to play are all from low-income communities, with the masked game organizers enticing them to risk their lives for the chance at winning unimaginable wealth. The story essentially boils down to a dark and ominous depiction of class disparity, with the players willing to die — or even kill — for a chance to better their lives through access to more money. The show has been massively popular among Netflix watchers and has been the source of many social media memes over the past two months.

Squid Game stars Lee Jung-jae, Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Jung Ho-yeon, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi and Kim Joo-ryoung. The first season is available for streaming on Netflix along with three other titles from creator Hwang Dong-hyuk – SilencedMiss Granny, and The FortressSquid Game Season 2, not officially confirmed by the streamer, does not yet have a premiere date.