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Netflix Dubbing Connects the World to K-Content

In an era where great stories can come from anywhere, language should not be a barrier to accessing them. This is the ethos driving Netflix’s pioneering efforts in dubbing, which plays a critical role in ensuring its films and series resonate with viewers in their native languages.

Korean shows, in particular, have captured significant global attention, with dubbing emerging as a key driver of their success. Over 40% of all viewing for branded Korean unscripted series on Netflix is dubbed, with regions like Brazil, Mexico, LATAM, and EMEA showing a strong preference for dubbing over subtitles. This preference can be attributed to factors such as family viewing dynamics, an ageing population, and differences in readability by language and market practice.

International Dubbing Day

An art form that blends innovation with human effort, dubbing is not merely about translating dialogue; it involves a meticulous process aimed at preserving the authenticity and creative intent of the original content. It begins with the adaptation of the script into the dubbing language, followed by the careful selection of voice talent to ensure a seamless connection between the character on screen and their voice.

“Dubbing is like a second production. We connect with the original creators to recreate the atmosphere and content in target languages. We make sure our artists and technicians feel like they’re part of the show, not an afterthought,” said Catherine Retat, Senior Director of Dubbing, Netflix.

To enhance authenticity, Netflix’s Korean dubbing team conducts workshops on cultural and linguistic nuances, ensuring that local expressions and sayings are accurately represented. Terms like “oppa” (older brother) and “unni” (older sister) are localised appropriately, preserving the essence of the original language.

“We want the audience to forget it’s a dub and feel the authenticity of the original work. Listening to audience feedback from different markets teaches us how to improve, whether it’s prioritising lip sync in one market or cultural references in another,” added John DeMita, Senior Manager of English Dubbing Language, Netflix.

Dubbing Insights from International Entertainment Artists

To celebrate International Dubbing Day, Netflix gathered a panel of foreign entertainment artists fluent in Korean to review the dubbing of Netflix Korean series into their native languages — English, Brazilian Portuguese, French, and Italian.

Tyler Rasch from the US was highly impressed by the dub of Squid Game in English. “The word choice was excellent, and even the mouth movements were so similar that you could almost mistake it for being filmed in English,” he enthused.

Carlos Gorito from Brazil also pointed out that Korean films and series, which used to be popular among those in their 20s and 30s due to K-pop, are now loved by a wide range of age groups, from those in their 40s to their 70s, thanks to the dubbing by Netflix.

“Dubbing significantly increases accessibility by lowering the entry bar,” he explained. Convinced of the power of dubbing, he added, “I believe the voice serves as the most accurate means to convey our intended message.”

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