North Korean website uses 'Squid Game' as propaganda against South Korea's 'brutal' society

From Seoul to San Francisco, the successful South Korean Netflix series “Squid Game” has become a hot topic of conversation over the past few weeks. Now North Korea is getting involved.

A North Korean propaganda website published an article on Tuesday arguing that the series reveals that life in South Korea is “tainted by the rules of survival of the fittest, corruption and immorality.”

“Audiences are saddened by the reality of South Korean society, which is becoming a brutal situation in which humanity is being destroyed in extreme competition,” said the article about the dystopian drama published on the Arirang Meari website.

The nine-part series produced in South Korea has become a worldwide sensation and Netflix’s most watched series. It follows 456 cash-strapped entrants, including a North Korean defector, who battle for around $ 38 million in prize money by playing a series of traditional Korean kids’ games only to find out that leaving each round means death.

Released last month, the show, despite being hugely popular in South Korea, also struck a nerve for its gruesome portrayal of the problem of personal debt and the difficulty of paying it off in the country.

North Korea regularly criticizes South Korean culture and its capitalist system and contrasts it with its false self-portrayal as an egalitarian society.

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“Squid Game” follows Parasite, the 2020 Oscar winner for best film, which also focused on issues of inequality in South Korea, and follows a poor family of crooks who find their way into the life of a rich but naive household sneak in.

At the time, the film was described by a Japan-based pro-North Korean newspaper as a masterpiece that “sharply exposed” the reality of the rich-poor divide in the country. according to Reuters.

Foreign influence and information from outside are seen as a threat to North Korean leadership, and the country’s leader Kim Jong Un has long ordered its citizens to avoid foreign influences, from fashion to dance moves.

In June, Kim described K-Pop as a “malignant cancer” according to KCNA, North Korea’s state media agency. In July, an editorial in the country’s official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, urged young North Koreans to avoid the “dangerous” South Korean slang, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Pedestrians cross the street under a large Netflix sign in Seoul, South Korea on Thursday. Antony Wallace / AFP via Getty Images

A new law introduced in December provides for up to 15 years in labor camps for those caught accessing South Korean entertainment and faces the death penalty for those caught distributing it, according to the KCNA.

But life in North Korea is far from a socialist utopia. Widely regarded as one of the most repressive in the world, the ruling regime relies on political prison camps to quell dissent. It also struggles with food shortages and an economic crisis exacerbated by international sanctions The aim was to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions.

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