Some Korean Speakers Think Squid Game’s English Subtitles Change The Show’s Meaning

One of these critics is TikToker @youngmimayer (@ymmayer on Twitter). She pointed out in one video that the character Han Mi-nyeo (Kim Joo-ryeong) gets constantly shafted in the subtitles. The character is a low-class gangster who swears, the TikToker says, yet this is all sterilized. She says also that in one scene, when Mi-nyeo is trying to convince others to continue playing the game, the subtitles tell audiences that she says she’s not smart, but she can work things out. @youngmimayer says that she’s actually saying she’s smart, but never got a chance to study — a major trope in Korean media that explains why the character exists in the first place. 

In another example pointed out by @akimillustrates, Sang-woo’s (Hae-soo Park) mother is translated as saying she doesn’t want her son to get her anything too expensive, when she actually says is something more like, “You don’t have to buy me anything, just take care of yourself.” The accurate translation makes her sound more motherly and caring, while the translation telegraphs more worry about money. 

Others agreed with the sentiment. @helllllen said she ruined her partner’s watching of the show explaining what the more “accurate” translations of the subtitles were “and then we’d both miss whatever crucial story beat was next cuz I was screeching.” Responding to the conversation about the show on Twitter, @Jayeamber1 said that two of them were watching on separate laptops and the English subtitles were different. “The distinctions were subtle but even that made it feel like we were watching different shows,” they said. 

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