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Squid Game has a botched Netflix translation — here’s how to fix it

Park Hae-soo, Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon star in Squid Game
(Image credit: Netflix)

Squid Game is the biggest show on Netflix right now. The South Korean survival drama is topping the streamer’s most-watch lists in dozens of countries and has taken social media by storm. 

It’s not hard to see why either; Squid Game has a simple but very compelling premise. It follows a group of struggling citizens who are selected by a shadowy organization to take part in a series of playground games each with a deadly twist. However, viewers watching the series with English subtitles may in fact be getting a poorly translated version of the acclaimed show. 

Korean-speaking podcaster Youngmi Mayer took to social media to explain that the English subtitles provided by Netflix aren’t doing a good job of preserving the show’s original writing. She used a scene featuring the character Han Mi-nyeo (played by Kim Joo-Ryoung) to illustrate her point. 

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However, what’s even more strange about the whole situation is that Netflix actually offers two different translations of Squid Game. One is significantly more accurate, but it appears that many viewers are unaware of this and are actually watching the series via a translation that loses much of the original nuance of the writing. 

In the example below the “English [CC]” captions have Han Mi-nyeo saying “I’m not a genius, but I can work it out” but a more direct translation is: “I am very smart. I just never got a chance to study”, which is apparently a common Korean expression. 

If you change the captions on Netflix to “English” in the menu, then the subtitles read: “I never bothered to study, but I’m unbelievably smart.” This still isn’t a perfect translation, as Han Mi-nyeo's lack of study is due to disadvantage rather than application, but it’s still much closer to the original text than the “English [CC]” captions.  

Squid Game with English [CC] captions

(Image credit: Netflix)

Squid Game with English captions

(Image credit: Netflix)

If you’re curious why these two translations differ so much it’s because the “English [CC]” captions are actually for the English dubbed version of the series, whereas the “English” captions are for viewers watching in the original Korean language track. 

If you’re currently making your way through Squid Game make sure to set captions to “English” not “English [CC]” in order to get the most accurately translated version of the show. If you’ve already finished the series, here’s everything we know so far about Squid Game season 2

Rory is a staff writer at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics including tech news, deals, gaming, streaming and more. When he’s not writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found watching a borderline unhealthy amount of movies and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.