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Korean film ‘Yuksao’ becomes a hit Vietnam with great translation

Korean film ‘Yuksao’ becomes a hit Vietnam with great translation

Posted December. 06, 2022 07:38,   

Updated December. 06, 2022 07:38


Korean film “Yuksao,” which premiered in August this year, attracted 1.98 million viewers in Korea and proved the potential of a low-budget comedy film, hit the jackpot in Vietnam. After opening in the country on September 23, it has continued to be a long-term box office hit, attracting 2.25 million people, much more than in Korea, by the end of last month. 2.25 million audience is the highest record ever for a Korean film released in Vietnam. The previous record was 1.2 million, set by director Yeon Sang-ho’s “Peninsula” (2020).

The first secret to the box office success of “Yuksao” in Vietnam is that it dealt with the division of South and North Korea. Vietnam as well experienced the pain of the division of their nation in the past, giving the context to Vietnamese feel a sense of kinship to the situation in the movie. However, the most important contributor to the hit was “Vietnamese customized translations,” which reflected Vietnam’s sentiment and buzzwords into the translated lines. “A number of Vietnamese audiences left comments complimenting the movie’s quality translation,” said Jeong Tae-seon, head of CJ HK Entertainment which distributed the film to the Southeast Asian nation. “Many said they were able to laugh along thanks to the great translate lines.”

The translations were carried out by local Vietnamese employees of CJ HK Entertainment, not by professional translators. "We worked hard to localize the lines and translated unique Korean idioms and the latest Korean buzzwords to suit the situation, sentiment, and culture of Vietnam as much as possible," marketing team leader Dao Tichuk-ha and distribution team manager Nguyen Tuan-lin said in a written interview with The Dong-A Ilbo.

One of the popular scenes is where South Korean soldiers broadcast to their North Korean counterparts to suggest sharing the first prize money for a lottery paper which flew away and crossed the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) to the North side, shouting, “This is for comrades in North Korea. ‘let’s meet now’ by Jang Ki-ha and Faces.’” This line was translated as saying ‘let’s all join hands.’ This is a line in the song by popular Viefamous singer Trinh Cong Son. "The music 'Let's meet now' was played in the movie as it originally was, and the lyrics were also translated from the original texts, but we used the title of a Vietnamese song to draw laughter," the translators said.

In the scene where the North Korean soldier, Lee Yeon-hee (featured by Park Se-wan) teases the South Korean counterpart Park Cheon-woo (by Ko Gyeong-pyo), who is in charge of broadcasting to North Korea, calling him ‘Sergeant Fart comrade’ which was translated as “Sergeant Park Boong” by inserting the sound of farts in Vietnamese, drawing laughter among the audience. Another scene where Park calls Lee the “North Korean IU” was translated literally as the singer IU is in fact popular in Vietnam as well.

Gapbunssa (the mood became suddenly cool) is a word the Sergeant Ri Yong-ho (by Lee Yi-gyeong) of the North Korean Army learns when he studies “South Korea's trendy jargons” before heading to the south disguising himself as one of the South Korean. The word was replaced with the latest buzzword in Vietnam, bringing out laughter from young audience. "We tried hard to translate it into the most popular language in Vietnam so that the main audience, 18 to 25 years old, can enjoy it like a local movie,” the local team commented.

Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com