A North Korean student who smuggled copies of Squid Game into the country and sold them will reportedly be executed by firing squad.
North Korean authorities caught seven high school students watching the violent drama after sharing the show via USB flash drives.
Radio Free Asia reported a student who bought a drive from the smuggler received a life sentence after his parents reportedly paid authorities US$3000 ($4355), and the six others who watched the show have been sentenced to five years of hard labour.
The punishment was extended to the students' school where teachers and school administrators were fired and faced banishment to work in remote mines.
Local sources said the smuggler brought a copy of the Netflix show back from China and sold versions of it. RFA reported his death sentence would be carried out by firing squad.
"This all started last week when a high school student secretly bought a USB flash drive containing the South Korean drama Squid Game and watched it with one of his best friends in class," a law enforcement source in North Hamgyong province told RFA's Korean Service on Monday.
"The friend told several other students, who became interested, and they shared the flash drive with them. They were caught by the censors in 109 Sangmu, who had received a tip-off," said the source, referring to the government strike force that specialises in catching illegal video watchers.
The arrest of the teenagers marks the first time the Government applied a newly passed law called the "elimination of reactionary thought and culture" with people aged under 18.
The law carries a maximum penalty of death for watching, keeping or distributing media from capitalist countries.
Since the students' arrest, authorities have begun searching for more memory storage devices that contain foreign media.
"The residents are all trembling in fear because they will be mercilessly punished for buying or selling memory storage devices, no matter how small," a North Hamgyong resident told RFA.
"But regardless of how strict the Government's crackdown seems to be, rumours are circulating that among the seven arrested students, one with rich parents was able to avoid punishment because they bribed the authorities with US$3000 [$4355].
"Residents are complaining that the world is unfair because if parents have money and power even their children who are sentenced to death can be released."