What's lost in translation for Korean drama titles?

It is fun to talk with your friend about your favorite Korean dramas, but when you want to have the same kind of discussion in Korean, there is one extra step you need to take: find out what the original title is in Korean.

Drama titles, as well as movie and book titles, are often translated into slightly (or sometimes very different) forms when compared to the original names. Unlike in the old days when K-drama and movie titles didn't have "official" English translations, nowadays production companies consider various aspects when picking the best translation for a title.

They have to think about the marketability, simplicity and audience expectations of each drama, so they can't always simply offer the "most accurate" translation.

So although it can cause some inconvenience at first, the difference in the original titles of Korean dramas and their translated names offers an interesting opportunity for Korean learners. We made a detailed video for you.

We divided the 30 titles into 4 groups:

  1. Literally the same
  2. Direct translation
  3. Slightly different
  4. Very different

Let's find out how different or similar they are! ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

Group 1
Literally the same ๐Ÿ˜Ž

These dramas have exactly the same title in Korean and English.

  • ๋ฌด๋น™ Moving 
  • ์ปคํ”ผ ํ”„๋ฆฐ์Šค Coffee Prince 
  • ํ‚น๋ค Kingdom 
  • ๋ฏธ์Šคํ„ฐ ์…˜์ƒค์ธ Mr. Sunshine
  • ๋” ๊ธ€๋กœ๋ฆฌ The Glory
  • ์ดํƒœ์› ํด๋ผ์“ฐ Itaewon Class
  • SKY ์บ์Šฌ SKY Castle
  • ๊ฒฝ์„ฑํฌ๋ฆฌ์ฒ˜ Gyeongseong Creature 
  • ์Šค์œ„ํŠธํ™ˆ Sweet Home

Group 2
Direct translation ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

These are direct translations of the orignal Korean titles. 

  • ๋ˆˆ๋ฌผ์˜ ์—ฌ์™• Queen of Tears 
  • ์‘๋‹ตํ•˜๋ผ 1988 Reply 1988 
  • ํ•ด๋ฅผ ํ’ˆ์€ ๋‹ฌ Moon Embracing the Sun
  • ๋ถ€๋ถ€์˜ ์„ธ๊ณ„ The World of the Married 
  • ๋„๊นจ๋น„ Goblin
  • ํƒœ์–‘์˜ ํ›„์˜ˆ Descendants of the Sun

Group 3
Slightly different ๐Ÿ‘€

These titles are almost direct translations but with slight differences and variations.

  • ๋ฏธ์ƒ Misaeng: Incomplete Life 
  • ๊ตฌ๋ฅด๋ฏธ ๊ทธ๋ฆฐ ๋‹ฌ๋น› Love in the Moonlight 
    • literally: Moonlight drawn by the clouds 
  • ์ด์ƒํ•œ ๋ณ€ํ˜ธ์‚ฌ ์šฐ์˜์šฐ Extraordinary Attorney Woo 
    • literally: Strange attorney Woo Young Woo

Group 4
Very different ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

Tthe English translations of these Korean drama titles are quite different from the original, which makes them even more interesting for you, Korean learners. 

  • ๋ณ„์—์„œ ์˜จ ๊ทธ๋Œ€ My Love from the Star 
    • literal: you who came from the star
  • ์Šฌ๊ธฐ๋กœ์šด ์˜์‚ฌ์ƒํ™œ Hospital Playlist 
    • literal: wise doctor life 
  • ์‚ฌ๋ž‘์˜ ๋ถˆ์‹œ์ฐฉ Crashing Landing on You
    • literal: crash landing of love
  • ๋น„๋ฐ€์˜ ์ˆฒ Stranger
    • literal: the secret forest / the forest of secrets
  • ํ™˜ํ˜ผ Alchemy of Souls 
    • literal: exchanging souls 
  • ์ •์‹ ๋ณ‘๋™์—๋„ ์•„์นจ์ด ์™€์š” Daily Dose of Sunshine
    • literal: Morning comes to the psychiatric ward, too
  • ์Šˆ๋ฃน Under the Queen's Umbrella 
    • literal: umbrella
  • ๊ฐฏ๋งˆ์„ ์ฐจ์ฐจ์ฐจ Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha 
    • literal: seaside village cha-cha-cha
  • ์ผํƒ€ ์Šค์บ”๋“ค Crash Course in Romance 
    • literal: top-tier star lecturer scandal 
  • ์žฌ๋ฒŒ์ง‘ ๋ง‰๋‚ด์•„๋“ค Reborn Rich 
    • literal: conglomerate familyโ€™s youngest son 
  • ์‚ฌ๋‚ด๋งž์„  A Business Proposal
    • literal: in-company blind date with a prospective marriage partner 
  • ์‚ฌ์ด์ฝ”์ง€๋งŒ ๊ดœ์ฐฎ์•„ It's Okay to Not Be Okay 
    • literal: Sheโ€™s a psycho but itโ€™s okay. / Youโ€™re a psycho but itโ€™s okay.

What do you think? Were the differences bigger than you had thought? Or smaller? Comparing drama titles between the original Korean version and the translation one will always be a fun activity for Korean learners. If you find any interesting Korean drama title that you would like to have us explain in detail, send us a message!

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