Netflix's Squid Game criticized by North Korean website

Posted October 14, 2021 10:07 a.m. EDT
Updated October 14, 2021 12:34 p.m. EDT

The streaming series "Squid Game" has become a global sensation and the biggest release ever on Netflix, but the South Korean show is not getting much love from its neighbor to the north.

A North Korean website has seen fit to weigh in on the hugely-popular South Korean-produced Netflix series "Squid Game" which depicts a fictional game-show that has deadly consequences.

The North Koreans say the show reflects the "sad reality" of a quote "beastly" South Korean society, where mankind is "annihilated by extreme competition".

The website saying "Squid Game" portrays the south as an "unequal society where moneyless people are treated like pawns for the rich."

"They try to portray South Korea as this capitalist hell-hole. And so this very much fits into the narrative that South Korea is this place where the people are just slaves to making money, that it's a grim existence," said Jean Lee with The Wilson Center.

"Squid Game" posted Netflix's most popular premiere ever, with over 110-million people taking a look.

The plot: hundreds of people, heavily in debt enter a game to win a huge pile of cash.

One of the fictional characters is a North Korean defector.

The downside: if the contestants lose a game, they're killed on the spot.

"All of that, that we see in 'Squid Game' reminded me frankly of North Korea," said Lee.

It is North Koreans who can actually be shot on sight, if they try to leave the country. Like the defector, who sprinted through a hail of bullets as he made a desperate dash across the demilitarized zone to South Korea in 2017.

"It's about having no way out, being completely entrapped under extraordinarily adverse circumstances," said Greg Scarlatoiu, with the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

As for the North Korean website saying South Korea is a place where the poor are pawns for the rich and well-connected, human rights monitors say Pyongyang, doth protest too much.

"In north Korea, 30% of children are malnourished. In north Korea, people are starving today. North Korea is imprisoning 120,000 people in political prison camps and in other detention facilities," said Scarlatoiu.

Human rights groups say the money North Korea could be spending feeding its people it instead often spends on its military.

This certainly isn't the first time that North Korea has taken a shot at South Korean culture.

This past June, according to the New York Times, Kim Kong Un characterized the South Korean entertainment scene, including K-Pop as a 'vicious cancer,' corrupting the hair styles, speech and behavior of North Koreans.

Human rights monitors tell us K-Pop has become increasingly popular in North Korea with tens of thousands of North Koreans having access to it almost exclusively through the black market.

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