London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Beyond the Subtitle: what even the best translators can’t tell you

A talk by Professor Jieun Kiaer and Loli Kim (with Q&A), presented by the British Korean Society
Date: Tuesday 10 May 2022, 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Venue: Online | Tickets: Free |
Beyond the Subtitle graphic

Some of the debates about Squid Game turned the spotlight on the role of the subtitler: Are they skilled enough? Are they paid enough? Are there enough of them? We think that even the best, most highly-paid translator can’t tell you everything you need to know about what’s going on in your favourite K-film or K-drama. Sign up for this talk to find out why.

Watching a foreign language movie presents a unique situation in which the film viewer is unwittingly placed in the role of a multimodal translator, finding themselves entirely responsible for interpreting multifaceted meanings at the mercy of their own repertoire. It is no wonder then that in recent years foreign film viewers have been trying to develop their repertoires for the task that they are faced with. This is particularly the case with South Korean films and television shows, which have drawn the interest of foreign viewers (especially English speakers) who are eager to understand the meanings beyond the subtitle.

In our talk Beyond the Subtitle, we will do precisely this, drawing from our recently published book Understanding Korean Film: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, which broke this long-awaited ground when it was released in 2021. We will break down what is happening in a selection of scenes from some of the most recent South Korean films and television shows, including Pachinko (2022), Squid Game (2021), and Parasite (2019); unravelling the layers of meanings that are untranslated in the subtitle, yet vital for understanding what’s really happening on screen.

About the speakers

Jieun Kiaer is Professor of Korean Language and Linguistics at the University of Oxford. She publishes widely on East Asian translation, with particular emphasis on Korean translation. Her publications include Understanding Korean Film: A Cross-Cultural Perspective with Loli Kim (Routledge, 2021), The Routledge Course in Korean Translation (Routledge, 2018) and Korean Literature through the Korean Wave with Anna Yates-Lu (Routledge, 2019). Kiaer is also the series editor for Routledge Studies in East Asian Translation.

Loli Kim is a DPhil Researcher in Korean Studies and Research Assistant at the University of Oxford. Her work explores Asian multimodal, semantic, and cross-cultural communication, including language and gesture, particularly from a Korean perspective. Her publications include Understanding Korean Film: A Cross-Cultural Perspective with Jieun Kiaer (Routledge, 2021), The Soft Power of the Korean Wave (Routledge, 2021, Edited by Youna Kim), and Empirical Multimodality Research (Routledge, 2021, Edited by Jana Pflaeging et al.)

(automatically generated) You can find a video of this event on the BKS YouTube channel, here.

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