Some ‘Squid Game’ Fans Are Claiming That Mistranslated Subtitles Are Causing A Whole Lot Of Character Confusion

You can’t always trust subtitles. What you’re reading when watching a movie or TV show in another language has usually been simplified. As a result, something can be lost in translation. But the American subtitles for Squid Game — the surprise South Korean hit show, which is currently out-streaming even the newly arrived Seinfeld on Netflix — may have gone too far.

According to Esquire, some viewers of the show — which presents an alternate world in which those in debt compete in deadly games — have noticed that the show’s Korean-to-English subtitles One of the first people to spread awareness of the issue was New York-based comedian Youngmi Mayer.

“I watched Squid Game with English subtitles, and if you don’t understand Korean you didn’t really watch the same show,” Mayer tweeted. “Translation was so bad. The dialogue was written so well and zero of it was preserved.”

Mayer then directed readers to TikTok, where she broke down the matter in greater detail. As per Esquire:

She focuses specifically on the character of Mi-nyeo, whose brash behavior and irreverence toward the guards in Squid Game comes off as, honestly, a bit bonkers considering that if you don’t win this game, you die. But with additional context from Mayer, Mi-nyeo’s character makes a lot more sense.

As explained by Mayer, certain pieces of dialogue are slightly mistranslated, which makes a huge difference when meaning is considered. In one clip, the character says (as told via subtitle), “I’m not a genius, but I still got it work out. Huh.” Translation is close-ish, but upon review from Mayer, she says the line is more like, “I am very smart. I just never got a chance to study,” which, as Mayer explains, is a huge trope in Korean media. It’s not just a mistranslation; it’s a lack of understanding of Korean pop culture.

Others noticed the same thing.

Some people, though, didn’t agree 100% with Mayer’s police work, saying she was going off the English closed captioning, not the English subtitles. (Yes, those are two different options, though you’d have to manually choose the closed captioning.)

Others were happy that so many Americans were watching something with subtitles, even citing Parasite director Bong Joon-ho’s passionate pitch for reading while watching.

Netflix has not addressed the issue, but possibly because they’re already dealing with people upset that they’re showing Seinfeld in the wrong aspect ratio.

In the meantime, America, like much of the world, continues to have Squid Game fever. The show is so popular that Netflix is even getting sued for the massive surge in internet traffic. Meanwhile, people are not happy about one of its fans: Amazon creator — and noted union hater — Jeff Bezos.

(Via Esquire)