Netflix's smash-hit series, "Squid Game," has caused controversy online as some viewers allege that its subtitles were inadequately translated.
The thriller survival-themed series, which follows hundreds of cash-strapped people playing deadly children's games to win 45.6 billion won ($38 million) in prize money, has become a global cultural phenomenon, watched by audiences around the world.
Korean American comedian Youngmi Mayer posted on Twitter last week that the English translation for the series changed the meaning of the original lines.
"I watched 'Squid Game' with English subtitles and if you don't understand Korean you didn't really watch the same show. The translation was so bad," she wrote. "The dialogue was written so well and zero of it was preserved."
She shared a video showing some of the examples from the closed-caption subtitles for the English dubbed version that were mistranslated.
In one of the scenes, the character, Han Mi-nyeo (Kim Joo-ryeong), tells a guard: "Go Away." But Mayer explains that the actual line says, "What are you looking at," and the mistranslated line misses a lot of Mi-nyeo's character.
She also pointed out the part where Mi-nyeo tries to convince other participants to take her on their team, in which the subtitles say, "I'm not a genius, but I still got it worked out."
Mayer claims that the line actually should have been translated into, "I am very smart, I just never got a chance to study," which better portrays her character as a victim of socioeconomic inequality.
"Almost everything she says is being botched translation-wise," Mayer said. "It seems so small, but it's the entire character's purpose of being in the show."
As her tweets and video went viral, many fans agreed with the "poorly translated" subtitles from the series.
"So many people want to watch movies/shows with the original language intact and are willing to read subtitles to preserve that experience, but poor translations or, worse, terribly dubbed English ruin the quality of the movies/shows," a user wrote on social media.
Another user wrote: "My wife doesn't speak Korean and I have to translate it differently so that she catches the nuances of the dialogue. I'm happy that Netflix is airing Korean shows. Next, we have to work on making sure the message isn't lost in translation."
Some viewers who are non-Korean speakers were surprised to find out that they were not being conveyed the richness of the original lines and that more accurate translations may suggest different interpretations and nuances.
One user wrote: "I don't even speak Korean, but I've watched a lot of Korean shows. Even I could tell that the translation was bad after picking up on a lot of little honorifics and common phrases not getting translated in any way."
"The show was great, but now I'm realizing it was even better than I thought. Shame to see so much get lost in translation," a user wrote on Twitter.
However, some refuted the "poor translation" claims, saying that the translations took into account specific words that have cultural essences, including honorifics or words like "hyung" and "oppa" ― friendly words used in Korean to refer to an older brother, depending on whether the speaker is male or female.
"Translating Korean to English is so tricky. Do you do the direct translation or translate the sentiment? The translator here was probably just trying to keep it simple for the audience to read and keep up with the plot/characters," a user wrote online.
Especially with the closed-caption subtitles, the form of subtitles used for the series' English dubbed version, the lines have been altered to be in sync with the actors' mouths as they speak. The translations are therefore different for the closed captions in the dubbed version and for the English-language subtitles in the subtitled version.
However, although English-language subtitles make more sense, Mayer still pointed out that "the missed meaning in the metaphors ― and what the writers were trying to actually say ― are still there."
来源：The Korea Times