Search on Narcity

A TikToker Says Netflix's 'Squid Game' Is Not The Same Show With English Subtitles

A part of the story supposedly gets lost in translation.

Senior Global Editor
A TikToker Says Netflix's 'Squid Game' Is Not The Same Show With English Subtitles
Squid Game | Netflix

If you didn't watch Squid Gamein its original Korean, did you even really watch it?

The wildly popular Netflix show loses a bit of its edge when translated into English subtitles, according to a bilingual TikToker's viral explainer video.

Youngmi Mayer says the biggest problem is that the English subtitles fudge a lot of the dialogue, replacing entire sentences with ones that are slightly different, which ends up cutting a layer of the story out, according to her.

"If you don't understand Korean you didn't really watch the same show," she tweeted after watching Squid Game with English subtitles. "[The] translation was so bad. The dialogue was written so well and zero of it was preserved."

Squid Game is about people playing children's games for a shot at tens of millions of dollars, with death awaiting anyone who loses.

That doesn't change in translation, but Mayer says the English version misses some of the class struggle elements that play a big part in many Korean films, including the Oscar-winning Parasite.

"That is a huge trope in Korean media — the poor person who is smart and clever and just isn't wealthy," she said.

Her video about the differences has racked up more than 9 million views on TikTok so far.


#squidgame translations are sooo wrong here’s a little example

"The English subtitles are the worst," Mayer says. "The closed captioning in most shows is auto-generated for viewers who have hearing difficulties."

"The English dialogue subtitles are better, but even those aren't 100% accurate", she says.

In one of Mayer's examples, a woman tries to convince others to play the game with her.

"I'm not a genius, but I still got it worked out," she says, according to the English subtitles.

Mayer says the woman is actually talking about her street smarts.

"I am very smart, I just never got a chance to study," she says in Korean.

Mayer says the whole thing shows why translators need more pay and respect for what they do.

We've reached out to Netflix for a comment.

Translation issues aside, Squid Game is an international hit, and is reportedly on track to pass Bridgerton as Netflix's biggest series ever.

    Josh Elliott
    Senior Global Editor
    Josh Elliott is a Senior Editor for Narcity’s Global Desk focused on celebrity interviews and is based in Toronto, Ontario.
Recommended For You