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‘Working with Bong is challenging yet delightful,’ says Darcy Paquet

‘Working with Bong is challenging yet delightful,’ says Darcy Paquet

Posted May. 31, 2019 07:26,   

Updated May. 31, 2019 07:26


Sound of laughter had continued at the Lumiere Theatre in Cannes, France where Korean director Bong Joon-ho's movie “Parasite” played on May 21. Waves of laughter, the first of which brought on by a scene in which the oldest son Ki-woo, played by Choi Woo-shik, of Ki-taek played by Song Kang-ho tried to find a good spot for WiFi signal in their semi-basement, had lasted throughout the whole movie. Not even a single person out of 2,000 viewers left seat. This shows that non-Koreans were easily able to relate to Korean cultural nuances in the movie, which is largely attributed to U.S. film critic Darcy Paquet who translated “Parasite.”

“It is great to see the importance of translation newly recognized thanks to an outstanding movie,” Paquet said during an interview on Thursday at a café in Jongno, Seoul. He first came to South Korea in 1997 as an English lecturer at Korea University and learned the Korean language on his own. He is now married to his beloved Korean wife.

Although he had worked on the translation of almost 100 movies during the past 20 years, the film critic and translator says Korean to English translation is a “difficult task whose flaws are so easily noticeable.” It took him 10 days to translate the script draft of “Parasite” as the movie was quite packed with lines. Paquet and director Bong had stayed up two nights editing the final version.

Paquet has been behind the translation of all of Bong’s films since “Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000),” except “Okja (2017).” The South Korean director always asks for “short but impactful translation.” He even chose the name Do-joon for a character played by Won Bin in his 2009 movie “Mother” to keep it short in English. The director also requested extra attention to the translation of words, including plan and symbol, which repeatedly appear in the Palme d'Or winning movie.

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com