By Samantha Olson, Seventeen
7th October 2021 – Ever since it dropped on Netflix in September, Squid Game has taken the internet by storm for its Battle Royale-esque storyline. When 456desperate contestants compete in multiple rounds of Korean childhood games, their lives are at stake to win $38.5 million to help with their troubles. At least, that’s what we think based on the translated subtitles.
The Korean-to-English translation may not be as true to the story as viewers think. For foreign films and shows, Netflix usually provides translated subtitles (or English dubs) so American fans can understand their content. But what good are the translations if they aren’t even accurate? New York-based comedian Youngmei Mayer — who’s fluent in Korean — recently pointed out that there are some inconsistencies with Netflix’s English subtitles for Squid Game.
“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,” she said in a Tweet on September 30.
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Youngmei explained that the show is slightly lost in translation, which can make all the difference when you try to break down the meaning of it all. According to the English subtitles, a character says “I’m not a genius, but I still got it work out. Huh.” However, Youngmei explained that the line should be interpreted as “I am very smart. I just never got a chance to study,” which is a huge trope in Korean media. In this case, the mistranslation is a result of misunderstanding the culture of these characters.
As of this writing, Netflix has yet to respond to the inaccuracies.