Illegal versions of "Squid Game" are circulating in North Korea, and citizens are addicted to viewing it, according to a report by Radio Free Asia.

According to RFA, the series is distributed to the populace through more traditional methods, as streaming services are not available in the hermit kingdom.

"'Squid Game' has been able to enter the country on memory storage devices such as USB flash drives and SD cards, which are smuggled in by ship, and then make their way inland," a resident of Pyongsong, north of the capital Pyongyang, told RFA.

Young people in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, "secretly watch the show under their blankets at night on their portable media players," according to the source.

The inclusion of one character, Kang Sae-Byeok (Player 067), played by actress Jung Ho-Yeon, is helping to push the series' popularity.

Kang is a North Korean defector who entered the games to win money for her younger brother and to assist her mother in escaping.

RFA said the show crossed into North Korea across China's porous border.

This is despite increased efforts to make it more difficult to cross the border by land, including the planting of landmines, the stationing of extra guards at outposts, and the declaration of a kill zone along the border, all in the name of keeping COVID-19 out.

The show has caught on with the smugglers who bring things in from China at considerable danger, according to a citizen of North Pyongan province, which borders China.

"Squid Game," which debuted in September and quickly became a hit, follows a group of people in South Korea who are deeply in debt. They're duped into a fatal children's game tournament - "Squid Game" is a popular schoolyard game in South Korea - but many of them volunteer to return, realizing that the games may be their only chance to win the money they need to survive.

It's impossible to say how popular the show is in North Korea, but the fact that it's being viewed at all is noteworthy. In normal times, North Korea is a hermit nation, but the pandemic has made it much more so. It even refused COVID-19 vaccine donations.

North Korea's government passed a "anti-reactionary thought" law in 2020 that imposed harsh penalties for anybody discovered to have circulated or consumed foreign media, putting people who spread or watch Squid Game at risk of the country's death penalty.