Squid Game fans call out Netflix over "terrible" English subtitles translation
4 October 2021, 12:16
Squid Game viewers are slamming Netflix for poorly translating the Korean dialogue in the show.
UPDATE: Fans have confused the accurate subtitles with the less accurate closed caption subtitles which are used for the dubbed version.
It's only been out for two weeks but Squid Game is already the biggest show of the year so far. The dystopian Netflix drama is so popular that it is on track to become the most-watched Netflix series ever. The show tells the story of 456 people who sign up for a mysterious competition in which they risk their lives taking part in deadly childhood games to win money.
However, in spite of the positive reception, people are calling out Netflix for poorly translating the series' Korean dialogue.
In a viral tweet that has been liked over 68,000 times, Squid Game viewer Youngmi Mayer wrote: "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 then uploaded a TikTok video, which has been liked over 800,000 times and viewed over 3 million times. In it, she explains how poor the translation is for many of the show's characters. She points out that Han Mi-nyeo's actual lines are completely different to the English subtitles. In one scene, "What are you looking at?" is translated to "Go away".
Youngmi then says: "Everything she says is not really aligning, so you're missing a lot of this character and what she stands for". She also reveals that one line subbed as "I'm not a genius but I can work it out," actually translates to "I am very smart but I just never got a chance to study".
She continues: "Almost everything she says is being botched translation wise."
i want to do a scene breakdown on tiktok to show you what they could’ve translated to i might work on it today just so you can see what i mean and see what you missed. such a shame. translation is extremely important.— youngmi mayer (@ymmayer) September 30, 2021
also i want to point out 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— youngmi mayer (@ymmayer) September 30, 2021
i want to make one more point before muting this.. how stupid is it that in this country the media run by and large by white people get to criticize art? they don’t even know what we are saying. this is language but same goes for food art music etc…— youngmi mayer (@ymmayer) September 30, 2021
Since Youngmi shared her tweets, another thread has gone viral which points out that fans have been looking at the English closed captioning as opposed to the actual subtitles. Freddie Wong tweeted: "I can’t explain why I’m so bothered by this, but the amount of likes and views pouring in as someone confidently doesn’t realize they’re looking at the English closed captioning (which transcribes the dub) and not the English subtitles is astonishing."
The reason why the dubbed version is different is because Netflix edit the script so that the English better fits what the characters are saying. Netflix do this in the hopes of making a more enjoyable visual experience.
You can talk about what’s lost in translation in a dub, but that discussion I don’t think has the same viral stickiness of “Netflix is incompetent/maliciously mistranslating the dialogue.” If anything this is a big platform/UI miss if so many people concur this is a problem pic.twitter.com/HhjAfaVfBC— Freddie Wong (@fwong) October 3, 2021
Anyway, you want the English option generally, but the CC track also describes sound effects etc. which is helpful for the hearing impaired. pic.twitter.com/voenhykh2F— Freddie Wong (@fwong) October 3, 2021
In other words, make sure you select English option and not the English [CC] option when you watch with subtitles.