Squid Game Has Fatal Consequences In Real Life As North Korean Smuggler Reportedly Gets Sentenced To Death

Sae-Byeok in Squid Game.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Squid Game is Netflix’s most-watched show ever, and apparently, the South Korea survival drama is even getting watched in countries like North Korea, where the show is forbidden. Unfortunately, there are some fatal consequences for anyone who distributes the show in the country and those caught watching it. Those outside the nation are learning this firsthand after news broke that a South Korean smuggler was sentenced to death related to the series.

The harsh penalty? The smuggler was reportedly sentenced to death by firing squad after distributing copies of the show on USB flash drives. The punishment is part of North Korea’s Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture, which is a law aimed at punishing those who illegally distribute and view books, plays, movies, music, and television shows from outside the country. Radio Free Asia reported authorities discovered the illegal copies of Squid Game after a high school student illegally purchased a flash drive and watched it with their best friend during class. 

Those two friends told other friends about Squid Game, which eventually tipped off a government strike force created explicitly for enforcing the law. The student that purchased the hard drive reportedly received a life sentence in prison, and six other students who watched received five years of hard labor. In addition to that, the government fired the students’ teachers and other school administrators who failed to notice the illegal activity, and they will likely be sent to remote mines to work hard labor. The act apparently has other educators in North Korea worried they’ll suffer the same fate, even though they may not be explicitly involved in illegal activity.

The smuggler sentenced to death is only the latest to face harsh penalties as a result of sneaking illegal media into North Korea. Reports say a man was also sentenced to death by firing squad for distributing CDs and other South Korean media. 

Penalties for disobeying North Korea’s Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture are steep, but reportedly not completely unavoidable. Of the seven students punished, one allegedly came from a wealthy family and was able to avoid punishment for $3,000. 

North Korea is not a fan of foreign media, and it’s believed that the reason is outside influence encourages citizens to try and escape. It’s unknown if the new law will succeed in preventing more outside media from being viewed within the country, though one would imagine anyone would think twice given the harsh penalties that have been alleged. 

Squid Game is available to stream on Netflix in the United States and many other countries. Season 2 is confirmed to be on the way, though it could be a while before fans who are legally allowed to watch the series get the new episodes. 

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.