The success of the popularity of the series The Squid Game It even reached an audience so hermetic with that of North Korea, that despite the efforts of the communist regime, it habitually consumes products of South Korean and international culture.
The North Korean siege Arirang Meari took advantage of some readings and interpretations that emerged in the neighboring country and quoted anonymous South Korean film critics as saying that the television series depicts an “unequal society where the penniless are treated like chess pieces by the rich.”
In the nine-part series, shot in South Korea, contestants with debt problems play deadly childhood games in a bid to win 45.6 billion won ($ 38 million). Its September release made the production a worldwide sensation on Netflix.
The article highlighted: “It is said to make people realize the sad reality of the beastly South Korean society, in which human beings are pushed into extreme competition and their humanity is being wiped out.”.
South Korean culture is routinely criticized in North Korea. In March, the website Arirang Meari He said big companies treat K-pop stars like “slaves” and live a “miserable life” in the South.
In February 2020, a Japan-based pro-Korean newspaper praised the Oscars for the South Korean film. Parasite, which he described as a masterpiece that “starkly exposed reality” of the gap between rich and poor in South Korea.
North Korea imposes severe fines or jail time for anyone caught enjoying South Korean entertainment products or copying the way South Koreans speak, at a time when leader Kim Jong-un escalates a war against outside influences and calls for an improvement in local entertainment.
At the end of last year, a radical new law of “anti-reactionary thinking”, that includes up to 15 years in a prison camp for those who are caught with South Korean media, according to summaries of the norms obtained by Daily NK, the Seoul-based website that reports from sources within North Korea.
Furor in China, unavailable
Although the series cannot be seen officially in the Asian giant, it is all the rage in this country where many followers bypass the controls to download it illegally and rush to buy products related to production such as their peculiar costumes.
The dystopian South Korean series has become the most popular release in the history of the US platform, but it will hardly win the approval of Chinese censors for its violent content. That has not been inconvenient to build a legion of followers in cities like Shanghai, where crowds gather daily at a store that sells ‘dalgona’, a South Korean sweet that appeared in the series.
“People started sending production-related jokes in group conversations when I started watching it,” he told AFP a client named Li. “It’s fast-paced and therefore quite exciting,” he said.
The always astute Chinese manufacturers did not miss the opportunity and launched themselves into producing costumes and masks from the series that are beginning to flood the country’s digital commerce platforms. Trader Peng Xiuyang told AFP that his sales grew 30% after putting products of the series on sale. She didn’t know anything about her until a customer asked her if she was selling the black masks worn by the security guards at the deadly contest.
Chinese audiences have managed to bypass internet controls and view the series, especially through easily accessible illegal download pages.
(With information from Reuters and AFP)