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Korean Timed Text Style Guide

This document covers the language specific requirements for Korean. Please make sure to also review the General Requirements section and related guidelines for comprehensive instructions surrounding timed text deliveries to Netflix.

1. Acronyms

  • English acronyms that are commonly used in Korea should be written without periods between letters (e.g. CD, DVD, DNA). 

2. Character Limitation

  • 16 characters per line
  • Latin characters, spaces, punctuation count as 0.5 character

3. Character Names

  • Do not translate proper names (e.g. Peter, Suzanne), unless Netflix provides approved translations.
    • Names should be transliterated following the Korean Transliteration Guidelines available on the vendor-facing portal here
  • Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.
  • Short forms of names should not be used for historical figures and other well known people, (e.g. Bob or Bobby Kennedy for Robert Kennedy), except in cases where the fictional character or person is known exclusively by the short form of their name (e.g. Joey from Friends).
  • If a person/character is known by their full first and last name, it's acceptable to use either as the situation dictates.
  • Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters (e.g. Santa Claus).
  • Transliterate names. Follow the source format if a period is used for a middle name. (e.g. 호머 J. 심슨 for Homer J. Simpson)

4. Continuity

  • When including ellipses in subtitles, please use the single smart character (U+2026) as opposed to three dots/periods in a row.
  • Do not use ellipses or dashes when a sentence is split between two continuous subtitles. 

Subtitle 1: 그녀가 내게 와서

Subtitle 2: 다시 돌아오겠다고 했어 

  • Use ellipses to indicate a pause (2 seconds or more) or an abrupt interruption. In the case of a pause (2 seconds or more), if the sentence continues in the next subtitle, do not use ellipses at the beginning of the second subtitle.

Subtitle 1: 오늘 날씨는 아주…

Subtitle 2: 그녀는 예쁘다

Subtitle 1: - 내가 왜 해변에 가길 좋아하느냐면…

                 - 왜?

Subtitle 2: 바다에서 수영하는 게 좋아서야 

  • Use an ellipsis without a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence.

5. Documentary/Unscripted

  • Only translate a speaker’s title once, the first time the speaker appears.
  • Do not use ellipses when a sentence is interrupted by a narrative.
  • Dialogue in TV/movie clips should only be subtitled if plot-pertinent and if the rights have been granted.
  • News tickers/banners from archive clips do not require subtitles unless plot pertinent.

6. Dual Speakers

  • Use a hyphen followed by a space if two characters speak in one subtitle with a maximum of one character speaking per line.
  • Text in each line in a dual speaker subtitle must be a contained sentence and should not carry into the preceding or subsequent subtitle. Creating shorter sentences and timing appropriately helps to accommodate this.

- 하지만 왜요? 어디 가세요?

- 미국에요

7. Font Information

  • Font style: Gulim as a generic placeholder for proportional SansSerif
  • Font size: relative to video resolution and ability to fit 16 characters across screen
  • Font color: white

8. On-screen Text

  • Forced narrative titles for on-screen text should only be included if plot pertinent.
  • When on-screen text and dialogue overlap, precedence should be given to the most plot pertinent message. Avoid over truncating or severely reducing reading speed in order to include both dialogue and on-screen text.
  • The duration of the FN subtitle should as much as possible mimic the duration of the on-screen text, except for cases where reading speed and/or surrounding dialogue takes precedence.
  • Forced narratives that are redundant (e.g. identical to onscreen text or covered in the dialogue) must be deleted.
  • Forced narratives should be enclosed in double quotes (“ ”), except for foreign dialogue.
  • If the narrative is split between 2 different subtitles, use double quotes at the beginning and end of each subtitle.
  • Never combine a forced narrative with dialogue in the same subtitle.
  • When a forced narrative interrupts dialogue, do not use ellipses at the end of the sentence in the subtitle that precedes it and at the beginning of the sentence in the subtitle that follows it.

9. Foreign Dialogue

  • Foreign dialogue should only be translated if the viewer was meant to understand it (i.e. if it was subtitled in the original version). 
  • Foreign words or phrases should be translated when possible (i.e. hello, goodbye, thank you, merci) or transliterated when no accurate translation exists.
  • If a foreign word is transliterated, use single quotes to offset the foreign word. 

- ‘사요나라’

- 네가 일본어 하는 줄 몰랐어

  • Single quotes may be used to distinguish dialogue that is in a language foreign to the source language.

10. Italics

  • Do not use italics.

11. Line Treatment

  • Maximum two lines.
  • Text should usually be kept to one line, unless it exceeds the character limitation. Exceptions may be applied:

      • When there are 3 or more punctuation marks in one line.

        Subtitle 1:

        난 말했어, 하지 말라고, 너 뭐야! (O)

         

        Subtitle 2:

        난 말했어, 하지 말라고

        너 뭐야! (O)

         

      • When a sentence is quoted:

        Subtitle 1:

        내가 말했지, '난 안 그랬어' (O)

         

        Subtitle 2:

        내가 말했지

        '난 안 그랬어' (O)

12. Numbers

  • Numbers can be either written out or numerically. Good judgement may be applied where there are space limitations or reading speed concerns.

Subtitle 1:

11개 고쳤어 (O)

 

Subtitle 2:

두 개 고쳤어 (O)

  • Time: Do not use the 24-hour clock time format, except in a military context.
  • Money: Do not convert money to Korean won.
  • Measurements should be converted to the metric system, unless the original unit of measurement is plot relevant.

13. Punctuation

  • There should never be a period or comma at the end of a subtitle line.

Subtitle 1:

사랑해.

그게 내가 하고 싶은 말이었어 (X)

                                  

Subtitle 2:

사랑해,

그게 내가 하고  싶은 말이었어 (X)

  • Commas should be used when separating two sentences within a subtitle.

Subtitle 1:                                

사랑해, 그게 내가

하고 싶은 말이었어 (O)

 

Subtitle 2:

사랑해. 그게 내가

하고 싶은 말이었어 (X)

14. Quotes

  • Double quotation marks (“ ”) without spaces for all narrative text (principle photography, burn-in, main title): 

Subtitle 1: “그레이 아나토미”

Subtitle 2: “1992년 미국 시카고”

  • Single quotation marks (‘ ’) for the following instances:
    • To indicate quoted speech and citations
    • To emphasize certain words or phrases
    • Titles of films, TV programs, albums, songs, newspapers, books, works of art
    • Foreign language
    • Reading aloud
    • If a character is seen to do "air quotes"
  • Do not use quotation marks for voice-over text, such as when the speaker:
    • Is part of a different reality, a different time and place (e.g. the speaker is part of the following scene but the visual picture is of the previous one)
    • Recalls dialogue inside his/her head
    • Is describing a scene in which he/she does not take part
  • Quotes should be used at the start and end of each subtitle if the quote carries over more than one subtitle.

Subtitle 1: 우리 모두에게 분명히 말하더군요

                ‘두 번째 창문 지나면 보이는’

Subtitle 2: ‘첫 번째 출구로는 나가면 안 돼

                  함정이니까’

15. Reading Speed

  • Adult programs: 12 characters per second
  • Children’s programs: 9 characters per second

16. Repetitions

  • Do not translate words or phrases repeated more than once by the same speaker in the same subtitle
  • If the repeated word or phrase is said twice in a row, time subtitle to the audio but translate only once.

17. Songs

  • Only subtitle plot-pertinent songs if the rights have been granted.
  • Opening and ending theme songs should only be subtitled if clearly plot pertinent (e.g. for children’s content when the lyrics tell a story) or if instructed by Netflix. Normally, adult programs should not have the opening songs subtitled, except for SDH.
  • Do not italicize lyrics.
  • Punctuation: only question marks and exclamation marks should be used at the end of a line – no commas or periods. Commas can be used within the lyric line, if necessary.
  • Use ellipses when a song continues in the background but is no longer subtitled to give precedence to dialogue.
  • Do not use quotation marks to indicate song lyrics.
  • Follow this approach for poetry also.

18. Titles

  • Main titles: do not subtitle the on-screen main title card. Exception: On-screen main titles for Japanese content.
  • Episode titles: do not subtitle episode titles for Korean whether they appear on screen or not. Exception: On-screen episode titles for Japanese content.
  • Titles of published works, existing movies and TV shows: use official or well-known translations. If none are available, translate or transliterate.

19. Treatment

  • Honorific: Formal(존댓말) and informal (반말) should be decided after considering several factors such as context, relationship, era, etc.
  • Honorific usage shouldn’t be decided based solely on gender or age.
  • Don’t: A wife using formal tone when a husband uses informal tone regardless of the context.
  • Don’t: A female colleague using formal tone when a male colleague uses informal tone regardless of the context.
  • Don’t: A child using formal tone when an adult uses informal tone regardless of the context.

20. Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH) Guidelines

  • Include as much of the original content as possible.
  • Do not simplify or water down the original dialogue.
  • Where content has been dubbed into Korean, please refer to the dubbing script or dubbed audio as the basis for the SDH file and ensure that the two match as much as reading speed and timings allow.
  • If everyday language usage and grammar do not match and there is a risk that the SDH audience may misunderstand the dialogue due to these discrepancies, everyday language usage should take precedence. (e.g. 아, 맞는다, 네가 그랬지? vs. 아, 맞다, 네가 그랬지?)
  • Reading speed can be increased to:
    • Adult programs: 14 characters per second
    • Children’s programs: 11 characters per second
  • Maximum 2 lines for dialogue, 3rd line may be used for descriptors.
  • Maximum 3 lines for onscreen text, if necessary.
  • Truncating the original dialogue should be limited to instances where reading speed and synchronicity to the audio are an issue.
  • For TV/movie clips, all audible lines should be transcribed, if possible. If the audio interferes with dialogue, please give precedence to most plot-pertinent content.
  • All same-language audible songs that do not interfere with dialogue should be titled, if the rights have been granted.
  • Use song title identifiers when applicable - song titles should be in quotes: [‘내일이면’이 연주된다]
  • Song lyrics should be enclosed with a music note (♪) at the beginning and the end of each subtitle.
  • Use parentheses()to enclose speaker IDs.
  • Use brackets [ ] to enclose sound effects.
  • Identifiers/sound effects should be all lowercase, except for proper nouns.
  • Only use speaker IDs or sound effects when they cannot be visually identified.
  • When a speaker ID is required for a character who has yet to be identified by name, use (여자) or (남자), or [남자가 말한다] or [여자 목소리가 들린다], so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative.
  • Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music, e.g. 라디오에서 록 음악이 흘러나온다
  • Plot-pertinent sound effects should always be included unless inferred by the visuals.
  • Subtitle silence if plot-pertinent. For example, when plot-pertinent music ends abruptly.
  • Be detailed and descriptive, use adverbs where appropriate when describing sounds and music, describe voices, speed of speech, volume of sounds.
  • Describe the sounds and audio as opposed to visual elements or actions.
  • Sound effects that interrupt dialogue should be treated as follows:

Subtitle 1: 내가 어제 봤는데

                  [첨벙 소리가 난다]

Subtitle 2: 그런 상황은 아니었어

  • Speaker IDs and the corresponding dialogue should ideally be on the same line.

    (해설자) 옛날 옛적에, 어느 마을에…

  • Onomatopoeic words may be used e.g.  탁
  • Positional data should always be center top or bottom
  • In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
    • If foreign dialogue is translated, use [in language], for example [중국어]
    • If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [speaking language], for example [일어로 말한다]
    • Always research the language being spoken – [외국어로 말한다]  should never be used
  • Bleeped sound should be indicated as follows:
    • If a specific word in a sentence is bleeped, use ‘*’ to reflect a bleeped word using one asterisk per syllable.
    • Refrain from using asterisks only. Original meaning should still be delivered.

Subtitle 1:

우리 이제 [음 소거 효과음] *됐네 (O)

 

Subtitle 2:

우리 이제 [음 소거 효과음] *** (X)

 

Subtitle 3:

우리 [음 소거 효과음] **리스 부부야 (O)

 

Subtitle 4:

우리 [음 소거 효과음] **** 부부야 (X)

  • If an entire phrase or sentence is bleeped, use [음 소거 효과음]. Do not use ‘X’ or ‘*’ to reflect bleeped sound.

Subtitle 1:

아, [음 소거 효과음] (O)

 

Subtitle 2:

아, *** **** (X)

  • Note that the descriptor is used in the same line with dialogue as an exception.

Subtitle 1:

[음 소거 효과음] (X)

21. Special Instructions

  • Dialogue must never be censored. Expletives should be rendered as faithfully as possible.
  • All plot-pertinent dialogue should be subtitled, and takes precedence over background dialogue.
  • Always match the tone of the original content, while remaining relevant to the target audience (e.g. replicate tone, register, class, formality, etc. in the target language in an equivalent way).
  • When brand names or trademarks appear, you may either; use the same name if it is known in the territory you are translating for; adapt to the name that the brand or product is known by that the territory you are translating for; or use a generic name for that product or item. Avoid swapping out names of brands, companies or famous people for other names.

22. Reference

 


Change Log:

2021-07-11

  • Revised section 3 Character Names - 2nd bullet point added linking to the Korean Transliteration Guidelines now available on the vendor-facing portal (not public)
  • Revised section 14 Quotes - 8th bullet point added regarding "air quotes"
  • Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - 4th bullet added regarding everyday language vs. correct grammar, 6th bullet regarding a longer CPR limit for SDH has been removed (interlingual and intralingual subtitles have the same characters per row limit)
  • Revised section 21 Special Instructions - 4th bullet point added
  • Revised section 22 Reference - 3rd bullet point added linking to the Korean Transliteration Guidelines now available on the vendor-facing portal (not public)

2021-02-24

2021-02-01

  • Revised section 3 Character names - final bullet point edited regarding inclusion of a period
  • Revised section 6 Dual Speakers - example in 2nd bullet point edited
  • Revised section 12 Numbers - 1st bullet point edited and a new example added
  • Revised section 13 Punctuation - section revised with new copy and new examples
  • Revised section 16 Repetitions - 1st bullet point revised
  • Revised section 19 Treatment - section revised with new copy and new examples

2020-10-30

  • Revised section 6 Dual Speakers - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 11 Line Treatment - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 14 Quotations - 7th bullet point added regarding reading aloud
  • Revised section 17 Songs - 7th bullet point added regarding poetry

2020-07-24

  • Revised section 4 Continuity - 1st bullet added clarifying the type of ellipsis permitted 
  • Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - 3rd bullet reworded

2020-05-08

2019-08-20

2018-06-04

  • Revised section 2 Character Names - 1st bullet point revised, 3rd and 4th bullet points added
  • Revised section 8 On-screen Text - section header revised for clarity

2018-02-05

2018-02-05

  • Revised section 5 Documentary - 3rd and 4th bullet points added
  • Revised section 8 Forced Narratives - 2nd and 3rd bullet points added
  • Revised section 12 Numbers - 4th bullet point revised
  • Revised section 16 Repetitions - 1st point revised for clarity
  • Revised section 17 Songs - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 18 Titles - 1st and 2nd bullet points revised
  • Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - expanded for clarity
  • Revised section 22 Reference - 3rd bullet point revised

2017-10-06

  • Revised section 2 Character Limitation - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 13 Punctuation - 1st bullet point revised, 2nd bullet point added, examples revised for clarity
  • Revised section 18 Titles - 1st bullet point revised
  • Revised section 22 References - 3rd and 4th bullet points added

2017-03-17

  • Revised section 18 Titles - 1st bullet point revised, 2nd bullet point added

2016-05-15

  • Revised section 17 Songs - 3rd bullet point revised
  • Revised section 14 Foreign Dialogue - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 18 Titles - 1st bullet point revised, 2nd bullet point added
  • Added section 19 Treatment
  • Added section 20 SDH Guidelines

2015-12-07 (Version 3.3 )

  • Revised section 14.2 Character limitation
  • Revised section 14.4 Continuity - 2nd and 3rd bullet points revised
  • Revised section 14.12 Numbers - 1st bullet point revised. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th bullet points deleted
  • Added section  14.13 Punctuation
  • Revised section 14.14 Quotes - 4th bullet point revised

 

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