It has been reported that a man in North Korea was sentenced to death for having smuggled and distributed the TV series Squid Game into the country.
Netflix’s biggest hit of the year has entertained and shocked audiences worldwide, but just over the border from its country of origin it seems that its deconstruction of authoritarian power is more bitterly accurate than could be imagined.
According to Radio Free Asia, a man who smuggled and sold copies of Squid Game via USB flash drives in North Korea was sentenced to death after seven students were caught watching the series. The source states that he will be put to death by firing squad, while one student has received a life sentence and six others will be forced to do five years of hard labour. Even teachers and school administrators have been fired and may be exiled to work in coal mines.
Related: Here are the impressive numbers for Netflix’s hit series Squid Game
The punishments come from a recently-passed law on the ‘Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture’, which targets North Koreans who watch, keep, or distribute media from capitalist countries. The nature of this dystopian series — which depicts struggling citizens compelled to play sadistic games for the amusement of elites — may have particularly struck a nerve in the dictatorial regime.
The series has been a monumental success elsewhere in the world, with 142 million households in 94 countries having seen it, while its estimated value is calculated at $891.1 million (~£646 million) based on a budget of $21.4 million (~£15.5 million). While speculation of a follow-up is rife, the writer-director Hwang Dong-hyuk is more coy, telling Variety that “I don’t have well developed plans for ‘Squid Game 2.’ It is quite tiring just thinking about it. But if I were to do it, I would certainly not do it alone. I’d consider using a writers’ room and would want multiple experienced directors.”
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