I've recently been watching a couple of Korean shows on Netflix ("경이로운 소문", which Netflix calls "The Uncanny Counter", and "블랙"). The English subtitles have the characters constantly exclaiming "Gosh!" or "Geez!" and while I wouldn't swear to it, I think there was even a "Golly!" in there somewhere. One scene in particular that stands out is in 경이로운 소문 when a daemon has been captured and sent to the afterlife for punishment...he wakes up and says "Darn! Where the heck am I?". It's like everyone is channeling 1950's family shows.

Is this just...bad subtitling? Or there aren't great English equivalents for the exclamations these characters are making? Or something else?

  • Similarly, someone that would be called a bleeping bleep bleep on most English shows is called a jerk or a punk. Watching people chop each other up with swords while shouting "Gosh! Take that you jerk!" really seems out of place. Dec 25, 2020 at 1:30
  • (I've noticed the opposite effect on Netflix's Italian shows. The subtitles are full of the F-word, while what I can make out from the original Italian soundtrack is much much milder.) Dec 25, 2020 at 1:33
  • Favorite so far: a daemon, guilty of killing multiple people, who has been banished to the afterlife for punishment, wakes up in the underworld and says, "Darn it! Where the heck am I?".
    – larsks
    Dec 25, 2020 at 1:36
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    what are the exclamations those characters are making? Do you have a transcript? I don't really see what the question is, or how it's related to Korean other that it's from a Korean movie. Are you sure the subtitle makers are following some kind of standard translation procedure? The reason might very well be that who ever made the subtitles didn't really know many English exclamations, or many of the words said in the dialog don't have an exact English translation to begin with
    – user17915
    Dec 26, 2020 at 4:41
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    @user17915 of course it has to do with Korean language! The question is how accurates the subtitles reflect the actual language in use, or whether they reflect aspects of common interjections in Korean that differ from English, and requires someone fluent in both Korean and English to answer
    – larsks
    Feb 11, 2021 at 12:22

1 Answer 1


It's most likely that most Korean viewers are repelled by hearing vulgar words. From the society where the modesty is the greatest virtue, spitting harsh words are immediate turn-off to mainstream viewers.

This environment affects both script writing and subtitles. (subtitles from western movies are also likely toned down)

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