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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 for comprehensive guidelines 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 according to English-Korean notational system
  • Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.
  • Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters (e.g., Santa Claus).
  • Transliterate names. Do not place a middle dot between first and last name (e.g., Jason Bourne = 제이슨 본).

4. Continuity

  • 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 or an abrupt interruption. In the case of a pause, 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 ellipsis without a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence.

5. Documentary

  • Only translate a speaker’s title once, the first time the speaker appears in the documentary.
  • 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. 

- 하지만 왜요? 어디 가세요?

- 미국에요fth

7. Font Information

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

8. Forced Narratives

  • Forced narrative titles 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

10. Italics

  • Do not use italics.

11. Line Treatment

  • Maximum two lines.

12. Numbers

  • Numbers should always be written numerically: 11, 12, 13, etc., even when beginning a sentence.
  • 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 at the end of a subtitle line.
  • Commas are preferred when separating two sentences within a subtitle, although periods are accepted:

Preferred - Eg. 1:             사랑해, 그게 내가

[correct]                          하고 싶은 말이었어

Eg. 2:                                사랑해. 그게 내가

[correct]                          하고 싶은 말이었어

Eg. 3:                                사랑해.

[incorrect]                       그게 내가 하고 싶은 말이었어.

                                        (There should never be a period at the end of any line)

Eg. 4:                               사랑해,

[incorrect]                      그게 내가 하고  싶은 말이었어

                                        (Never use a comma at the end of a subtitle line) 


  • 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
  • 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


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.
  • 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.

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 - jondae (존댓말) vs. informal - banmal (반말)

  • For any non-established/unknown relationship/hierarchy, formal speech will be used no matter the sex and who is speaking to whom - 존댓말 (요).
  • Deferential style (니다) this is the most formal of Korean speech, reserved for royalty, dignitaries, business meetings, presentations, and speeches. News broadcast are done in this speech.
  • For work settings, formal speech (요) should be used even amongst co-workers, no matter the sex.
  • Setting and era should also be taken into consideration, e.g., during the time of kings, deferential style would be used by everyone in court.  The use of formal and informal speech due to hierarchy would only apply to servants.
  • Limitations on Informal Use:
    • No informal when child speaks to an adult, unless child’s mother or father
    • No informal when adults talk to officials/authority figures--police, teachers, etc.
    • No informal when adults speak to senior citizens
    • No informal when male speaks to unknown woman unless context is to be rude/impolite
    • No informal between two strangers unless context is to be rude/impolite

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.
  • Reading speed can be increased to:
    • Adult programs: 14 characters per second
    • Children’s programs: 11 characters per second 
  • Character limit can be increased to 18 characters per line.
  • 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:
    ["Forever Your Girl" playing]
  • 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.
  • 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 [man] or [woman], or [male voice] or [female voice], 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., rock music playing over a stereo).
    Sound effects should be plot pertinent.
  • Sound effects that interrupt dialogue should be treated as follows:

Subtitle 1: However, lately, I've been...

                [coughs, sniffs]

Subtitle 2: ...seeing a lot more of this. 

  • 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 [in Spanish]
    • If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [speaking language], for example [speaking Spanish]
    • Always research the language being spoken – [speaking foreign language] should never be used

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. 

22. Reference


Change Log:


Revised section 4 Continuity - 3rd bullet point added
Revised section 15 Reading Speed – Rewritten for clarity


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


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


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


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. Korean: Content Requirements

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