If you've been watching Squid Game (and let's face it, who hasn't?) we're sorry to say you might not have seen the show as the makers intended.
Squid Game is on track to become the streaming service's most-watched show of all time, overtaking the likes of The Crown and Bridgerton. It has taken the number one spot in 90 countries within 10 days of its release.
But according to Korean speakers, the translation of the hit Netflix series deviates wildly from the original script.
Youngmi Mayer, a biracial Korean-American TikTok user and the co-host of the Feeling Asian podcast, went viral earlier this week for tweets and a video explaining the disparities between the actual language used and the subtitles.
'Not to sound snobby, but I’m fluent in Korean and I watched Squid Game with English subtitles and if you don’t understand Korean, you didn’t really watch the same show,' she tweeted. 'Translation was so bad. The dialogue was written so well and zero of it was preserved.'
not to sound snobby but i’m fluent in korean and i watched squid game with english subtitles and if you don’t understand korean you didn’t really watch the same show. translation was so bad. the dialogue was written so well and zero of it was preserved
— youngmi mayer (@ymmayer) September 30, 2021
Mayer goes on to unpack specific scenes, showing how character motivations and meanings have been skewed by the translation.
One scene Mayer focuses on shows Han Mi-nyeo, a poor single mother, saying: 'I'm not a genius, but I can work it out,' referring to playing the games in the show.
'What she actually said is, "I'm very smart, I just never got a chance to study". That is a huge trope in Korean media: the poor person who is smart and clever, but just isn't wealthy,' says Mayer.
'That's a huge part of her character... all the [writers] want you to know about her is that.'
Mayer goes on to tweet that 'the reason this happens is because translation work is not respected and also the sheer volume of content. Translators are underpaid and overworked and it’s not their fault. It’s the fault of producers who don’t appreciate the art.'
Thankfully, there is one change you can make to ensure you're watching the most accurate version of Squid Game possible.
And it's pretty simple: change your subtitles from 'English [CC]' to 'English', ASAP.
Netflix offers two translations for English speakers: 'English subtitles' and 'English [CC] (Closed Caption) subtitles', which are intended for the hard of hearing and include soundtrack notes and descriptions of background noises.
According to Korean speakers, the plain English subtitles are far superior, with some on Twitter claiming that the former translation is based on the original Korean script, while the CC one is a direct translation from the dubbed English script.
Many Netflix accounts are automatically programmed to use CC subtitles, so make sure you check your settings for the best possible Squid Game binge session.
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