Squid Game’s Smuggled Copies Are Reportedly Spreading in North Korea

Illegal copies of Netflix’s hit series, “Squid Game,” are reportedly circulating in North Korea after being smuggled into the country amid a crackdown on foreign media, Radio Free Asia reported.

The show, premiered in mid-September, follows the story of 456 adults with high economic burdens who are invited to play children’s games to win a 45.6-billion-won (over $38 million) cash prize. Those who do not complete such games are brutally murdered.

In January this year, the North Korean government announced that anyone caught enjoying South Korean entertainment could face severe fines or imprisonment. However, the world-famous show’s smuggled copies still arrived in the country despite retribution threats, the RFA reported.

A resident of Pyongsong, north of Pyongyang, told the media that people had used memory storage devices, such as USB flash drives and SD cards, to smuggle Squid Game’s copies into the country by boat.

One of the shows’ main characters, Kang Sae-Byeok (player 067), has been of particular interest to North Korean audiences. Played by actress Jung Ho-Yeo, Kang Sae-Byeok is a North Korean defector who participated in the deadly games hoping to win and use the prize to help their parents escape the country.

“One of the characters is a North Korean escapee and they can relate to her,” the source said, adding that North Korea’s young people “secretly watch the show under their blankets at night on their portable media players.”

The Pyongsong resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said the series perfectly emulates many South Koreans’ lives in their country amid a growing national debt. It also resonates with North Koreans, the source added.

“They say that 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 resident said.

Pyongyang officials consider that the show’s plot is like their own reality, “where they know they could be executed at any time if the government decides to make an example out of them for making too much money.” However, they continue making as much money as they can, the source went on.