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Popularity of K-Dramas with fan-made foreign subtitles

Posted August. 02, 2016 06:45,   

Updated August. 02, 2016 13:37


The reason that Korean dramas have become a global popularity is because the active participation of overseas fans who translate drama scripts into their languages.

The US start-up Viki runs a unique subtitle system. When a member who is fluent in both Korean and English translates and uploads an English subtitle for a program to the site first, the worldwide Viki users then translate it into their own languages. In this way, multi-language subtitles are available across the globe. Any Viki user can participate in translation and subtitling activities, and some members volunteer to review subtitles to avoid poor quality translation of on-line translation sites.

Mrs. Daniella from Peru, a grandmother of two grandsons, translates K-dramas from English into Spanish. “I fell in love with K-dramas after watching the 1st Shop of Coffee Prince," she said at an e-mail interview with the Dong-A Ilbo. "The Latin American drama always has the same ending like Walt Disney's princess stories. K-dramas are interesting as they reflect the reality and have many twists.” March, a student of University of Illinois, said, “I became a big fan of Korean dramas due to emotional and sensitive factors that were peculiar characteristics of Asia and hardly seen in American TV dramas.”

The biggest obstacle to subtitle translation is Korean honorifics. Miss Recitia, a travel agent in Recife, Brazil, translates K-dramas from English into Portuguese. She said, “I translate English subtitles for K-dramas into Portuguese. Since honorific titles are not used in English language, I should be vigilant to transmit the meaning of Korean dialogues as they are. In this regard, historical dramas are the most difficult genre to translate.”

All interviewees welcomed the recent moves of diversified drama formats such as thriller and legal dramas and wanted to see more genres to be added in the near future. The Illinois student said, “I hope to see a hero or heroine of the show overcome the adversity in diverse genres such as sports drama and SF drama.”

이서현기자 baltika7@donga.com