Where to Find K-Dramas and Subbing Issues

 

I heart k-dramaPlaces to watch Korean Dramas:

NEW as of October, 2014, and I am loving it so far: http://tv.soompi.com/en/home

Works well on my Droid phone, too.  Has fast subs up on currently airing shows.

Hulu.com- pretty easy and straightforward.  You need to know the title of the show you want.

http://www.viki.com/ : Very glitchy for me, but works well for others. Has other ‘foreign’ television programs, too, not just Korean (this may be true of the others as well, I haven’t looked. That info is on the front page with viki).  If you are watching a new show, one still on the air, of the sources I know of, viki will often get them first- before Hulu especially (except at the beginning of the school year, because I think a lot of their volunteers must be students).  Also offers subbing in many more languages than English.  The subbing is happening as you watch with the new episodes, so sometimes only half the captions will be completed when you want to watch the show if it’s new, but they are pretty fast.

https://www.dramafever.com/, my main issue with this one may be an issue with my computer, but from time to time while I am watching, the episode suddenly stops and reloads  and bumps me forward to the next episode.  Has a lot of programs you won’t find on Hulu, though.  Also has a nice selection of background material and links so that if you like an actor or screen writer for one program, you can quickly see that person’s name, title, and profile, along with other bodies of work they’ve done.

http://www.crunchyroll.com– seems to have some shows not available at the other sites.  Has more comics than any of the others.

http://www.dramacrazy.net/- has some I haven’t been able to find elsewhere (The Story of a Man, also called A Man’s Story or Slingshot; Rock, Rock, Rock), although the episodes are broken up into several different parts.  Often gets the subs up even faster than Viki.

Gooddrama.net- breaks the shows into three-five parts, like Drama Crazy.  Has some things you won’t find elsewhere.  You can search by country as well as by genre.

http://www.drama.net

dramaholics.com: gets subs faster than others at the moment.  Mostly K-dramas (maybe all, not sure)

http://www.dramago.com/

http://www.dramacool.com/

Soompi is a good place to discuss your favorite K-Dramas with others, although I try to avoid the discussions of dramas with a high quotient of idols as they tend to attract the most teen-agers who are more interested in squeeing and swapping fan fiction and fan pics than discussing the drama itself.

You can sometimes get subs fastest at DarkSmurfs, but sometimes those subs have been translated to Chinese and then computer generated from that to English, which makes for some really bizarre subs and grammar, but you can be part of the solution by correcting the English grammar even if you can’t speak other languages.  You have to register to see the subs.

Dramacrazy and gooddrama are most likely to have really obnoxious, vulgar ads.

If you want to watch the variety show 1 night 2 Days (1n2d) with English subs, go here.

What do you mean the English subs aren't done?!

What do you mean the English subs aren’t done?!

Subbing:

As far as I know, subtitles are all done by volunteers, and a handful of times I have found it helpful to watch an episode once at viki, and then again at one of the other sources, because they don’t always make the same translation choices, and seeing two different translations can really help with understanding.  Sometimes the subs were first done from Korean to Chinese, because K-Dramas are wildly popular in China, and then the English subs were made from the Chinese versions. Those subs tend to be really, really strange at times and much gets lost and/or added in translation,  and the pronouns are almost always wrong (pronouns aren’t much used in Korean, and I assume not in Chinese, either).  This is more likely to be the case with the older dramas, subbed before the K-Drama addiction hit the States.  I have taken to just ignoring almost all the pronouns in the subs. It actually helps.

One example of a weak translation- the drama Mary Stayed Out All Night  features a story line about the male lead, who is rather laid back and doesn’t like to fight at all- until one evening some drunks call him a name that makes him see red, and he gets in a fight with them there, and again at the police station where they call him the same name.  In the first version I saw, the English subtitle said they called him a creep, and it really never comes up again.  However, there was a much later scene where, seemingly out of the blue, another character asks his mother why he hates to be called unlucky or unfortunate so much.

I watched it again with subtitles done by a different team, and that’s what the drunk thugs had called him.  The reason he hates it is because his mother had him at 17 and was still an irresponsible butterfly of a woman, so he was tossed from relative to relative, most of whom talked about how unlucky it was for his mother that he’d come along when he did. This theme is woven throughout the show, and it comes up in several places, but because the first team of subbers did not translate the same word consistently, I lost that.

In What’s Up, somebody is looking for the ‘johk-ah’ of his late girlfriend.  The subtitles call the johk-ah a nephew and use male pronouns to refer to the child.  However, like dongsaeng, the word for younger sibling, Korean isn’t necessarily gender specific about nephew/niece- the word refers to both genders.

Actually, I think we miss a lot in translation- as we know there’s even a proverb about that.  But then again, the more you watch and listen, the more you begin to pick up on the smaller details- at least some of them.  Take Marry Me, Mary.  after about a year of K-drama watching, I happened to read my above comment again, and I realized that in Korean culture the ‘unlucky’ tag has far more baggage than it does in America.  There is a solid thread of fatalism, ‘fate,’ mysticism running through Korean culture (at least in their dramas).  Being called unlucky in America is a sympathetic thing to say, it’s something outside the person himself.  But the idea behind the word in Korean is more like being a burden or an actual curse.  It’s personal.

Reading recaps by somebody who knows the culture and language also helps a lot.  Dramabeans is my favorite for this, although we do part ways on some of the social commentary.  The brainwashing of the gender studies classes, it runs deep on this site, unbelievably deep and generally with a whopping great jawdropping double standard.

You can still enjoy the shows without watching an episode more than once and without the recaps, I just find it more interesting to read a recap as well as watch the program.

An important issue in Korean culture is the distinction between talking informally (banmal) and formally (jondae), and there are nuances of meaning behind these language choices that a nonspeaker will miss entirely without extra help. I can sometimes  usually tell now when somebody is being formal or informal, but it requires a lot of concentration, and it’s still not always clear to me why those word choices are made- I’m seldom able to tell if it’s an issue of being comfortable, funny, cute, demonstrating status, or being rude. I just don’t know (10/14, I think I am catching it about half the time).  (If the sentence ends in ‘yo’ or mnida that’s a clue that it’s formal).

Shows I am currently watching but haven’t finished yet are described here.

You might also enjoy:

Dramas I’ve completed, recommend, and reviewed: see here.

K-Dramas I almost liked– most of these are just darker than I usually prefer. Some are just flawed.

Things to know when watching a K-drama

More Things To Know

Addiction, and why I like K-dramas

You might be watching a K-Drama if….

Where to get your fix: Sites where you can find subtitled K-dramas (and dramas from other countries, as well. I’ve watched a handful of J-dramas (Japanese) and TW (Taiwanese) dramas, but I vastly prefer the K-dramas, even though I know more Japanese – I got an A in my Japanese 101 class back in the day, when we actually lived in Japan and once I even knew both hiragana and katakana- but still K-dramas interest me vastly more).

Learn more background stuff about Korean culture and/or K-Dramas from askakorean,  belecticground and dramabeans.

The social commentary at one of those  sites in particular drives me nuts. It won’t take long for you to figure it out. You can tell they were well indoctrinated either by direct contact with a woman’s studies program in college, or by some secondary influence. The double standard and near complete blindness to it is absolutely jaw dropping.  They freak out over the alleged, perceived, and occasionally real disrespect, misogyny, and patriarchy involved in a wrist grab (a common K-Drama thing, and also something I actually do to my husband and kids when I am really excited about something and want to drag them over and make them share the moment with me).  I understand that many of the wrist grab scenes are about asserting male power, I just don’t agree that all of them are, nor do I agree that asserting one’s gender is always and everywhere a bad thing.  But what really sticks in my craw is having somebody who cannot bypass a wrist grab without genuflecting to one’s Womyn’s Studies past also giggle , chortle, and cheer like spiteful school girls when a female character is violently abusive towards a male. I’ve witnessed the giggling and cheers over scenes ranging from a girl kicking a male character in the shins, or worse,  between the legs merely because he has annoyed her, to delight over scenes which have the female lead demonstrate her ascendancy over the male lead by leaving him with a fat lip, black eyes, and/or a blood nose- again, only because he’s annoyed her, not as a matter of self defense against an actual attack.  They think wrist grabs are abusive but male battering is hilarious. I think the double standard is disgusting, and I’ll take honest patriarchy over the hypocrisy and vicarious thrills over violence of this brand of feminism any day of the week.

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2 Comments

  1. teachergirl
    Posted April 1, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    I find myself watch more on Viki recently than DramaFever. Nearly every time I try to watch on DF I have some technical issue (and I even have a subscription!) I also feel like Viki is more likely to translate/explain some of the cultural issues.

    I’ve never studied Korean, but since I started watching dramas several years ago I’ve picked up words and phrases here and there. I’ve actually surprised myself at being able to (somewhat) understand my friend when she’s talking on the phone in Korean.

    I definitely pick up on the banmal vs jondae and the use of honorifics and familiar/affectionate terms. What do you think of using honorifics in subtitles, like hyung/noona/oppa/unni, or titles like ajumma or ajusshi, versus translating them as the person’s name? I’ve come to really like and appreciate Korean honorifics because they say so much about the relationship between two people. I sometimes feel that’s lost if the name is used in place of hyung, etc.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted April 2, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      I had technical issues with DF for a long time, and then all of a sudden it just started working for me again. Which one I use varies with the show- I was watching Iris on Viki, but eisode 9 was missing several sentences of dialogue in two key moments, so I switched back to DF.

      I agree with you about the loss of nuance when words like noona are translated into English. I really dislike it when the translators translate those titles into somebody’s name. I also dislike it when they add pronouns that aren’t in the original. For instance, to me, dongsaeng has warmer connotations than ‘younger sibling,’ so I wish they’d just romanize it instead of translating.

      In Dream, the young boxer refuses to call the man who raised him father (he may or may not be his real dad, that’s one of the questions of the show)- he tries to sever ties and insists on calling him ajusshi. They see each other after about 2 years and the man asks him to call him father- so he says, “ahhhhhhhhhh-” and you think he’s going to say abeoji, or apa, but then he quickly goes on- ahhhhh- beoji! It worked so much better romanized than translated.

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