Are you binge-watching the South Korean survival drama “Squid Game” on Netflix? You are not alone!
[BTW bold blue words are always hyperlinks]
Now, are you watching it dubbed or subbed? There are downsides to both. Everybody in my social media circle is up in arms about the sub-par quality of the dubbing. Some say it makes the hit show unwatchable.
Bilingual Korean speakers tell us that the English dubbed version is filled with terrible translations, causing the viewers to miss many nuances.
The subtitles have another problem. Netflix requires translated subtitles to take into account viewers’ reading speed, which means they are limited to a certain number of characters. Most dialogue cannot be reflected accurately.
So, which version are you watching?
Someone recently told me: “Americans are lazy. They will not read subtitles. That’s just not how they like to watch television.”
I was shocked!
I NEVER EVER watch dubbed foreign shows, not even to support my dubbing voice over peeps. I always watch the original versions with subtitles.
Perhaps this has to do with where and how I grew up: in the Netherlands. From a very early age I was aware that our Dutch TV set could receive signals from all over Europe, and it was totally free.
My parents regularly watched British comedies, German game shows, and French dramas as they were broadcast in these countries. We watched concerts from Italy, ski jumping from Austria, and nature documentaries from Belgium.
Mind you: No dubbing. No subtitles.
THE SUBTITLE ADVANTAGE
This gave us kids an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the particular sounds and melodies of foreign languages. Even if we did not understand what was said, we picked certain things up through context and immersion.
When we began learning foreign languages in school, we already had an auditory frame of reference. Foreign languages did not sound foreign to us anymore.
By watching television from different countries, we also learned about different cultures and customs. And when we traveled abroad (which Dutch people love to do), we already felt connected to the people we’d meet.
My knowledge and love of languages has certainly benefited my voice over career, and it has opened my ears and eyes to the world around me!
As far as I’m concerned, you should always choose sub over dub!
MY SQUID GAME REVIEW
Now, what do I think of Squid Game? I’m not a TV critic, but I’m happy to share some of my thoughts. First off, you should know that I have been watching Korean shows on Netflix for a few years.
The first one I watched was “Crash landing on you” about a rich female South-Korean business woman who accidentally lands on North-Korean soil and develops a relationship with the officer who rescues her. It sounds corny, but this show taught me a lot about the contrast between North and South Korea.
One of my favorite Korean shows (by far) is “It’s okay to not be okay.” This romantic drama deals with anti-social personality disorder, autism, and healing emotional wounds. That doesn’t sound like a lighthearted show but it mostly is, and especially the way autism is explored and portrayed is exceptional.
Confession: I love the voice of the lead actress So Yea-Ji.
In my opinion, Korean television has amazing art directors. The sets, the scenery, the costumes… everything is gorgeous to look at, and this includes the actors. Sometimes the acting seems a bit over the top, but since I don’t speak the language, it’s hard to tell.
As a viewer, I like to be surprised, and Korean television can be full of clichés, but also full of sweet surprises. Compared to western television, Koreans take time to develop characters and backstories. Episodes often run for a full hour or more, with an artsy selection of stills at the end, and K-pop playing in the background.
Yes, it may be schmaltz, but pleasant schmaltz nevertheless.
DARWIN MEETS LORD OF THE FLIES
The Darwinian concept of “Squid Game,” pitching the haves against the have-nots, isn’t new. The costumes reminded me of the Spanish show “Money Heist,” and part of the sets were copied from the work of Dutch artist M.C. Escher. The use of classical music was stolen from Stanley Kubrick.
Calling the show an exploration of capitalism, is giving it way too much credit. I think it’s not that deep. The brutal violence is sickening and hard to watch. The explosive tension between- and emotional manipulation of the players was what kept me glued to the TV.
It’s a horrific show about the needy and the greedy, and I’m glad I’m done watching it.
I’m moving on to the Great British Bake Off!
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