The Surge in Demand for Korean Media Translation Services

It’s undeniable that the Korean wave or “Hallyu” has taken the world by storm, resulting in the need for Korean media translation. But not just any translation will do. A translation that matches the high-quality output of the media materials and content needs to be of a high caliber, too. 

This has led to a surge in demand for Korean media translation as more quality output is produced each year, delighting audiences from all over the world. So, what are the reasons behind this great demand for Korean media translation? What are the factors driving it and the need to translate Korean media into English? This post attempts to answer these questions.

A brief snapshot of the South Korean environment

In 2020, South Korea was ranked number one globally for innovation. This has resulted in the country becoming a central and much-coveted destination for new ventures, with business, e-commerce, fintech, technology, cosmetics, and culture becoming exceptionally high-quality exports. 

What’s more, is that the country’s levels of education are extremely high and globally competitive. This alongside strong technical skills, software, and the ability to think out of the box when providing solutions to problems at multiple different stages.

The culture wave

As part of the high-quality cultural exports, we are now seeing the global popularity of Korean media including K-dramas, K-pop, and multiple genres of films reaching the global stage in unprecedented quantities as well as exceptionally high quality, leaving audiences at the edge of their seats. This has resulted in the need to bridge the linguistic and cultural divide between the East and West as greater quantities of Korean media are exported. As such, the translation of media content is becoming ever greater in demand.

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Setting the Korean media scene with some numbers

We all know that 2020 was the year that Covid-19 hit all corners of the world in full force. Despite the global pandemic, online streaming became a huge hit in Korea with a whopping 4.1 million paid Netflix subscribers during that year alone. Representing a 108% increase on the previous year, it showed that there was both a demand for foreign content by Koreans and a demand by foreigners for Korean content. 

As a result of this, Netflix began pursuing an “aggressive” strategy to create original Korean content to as great an extent as it could. So, what happened as a result? We saw 15 original series and films produced in 2021, rising to 25 in 2022. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the world enjoyed Korean media content with over 60% of all Netflix users streaming Korean titles in 2022. 

The reasons behind Korea’s media success 

The rise in demand for Korean media translation and importantly, Korea’s media success, can be attributed to four intertwined factors.
Breaking Down Barriers: Today's Global Market's Growing Need for Accurate Korean Language Translation

  • Quality vs cost: Korean films and series are of a very high global standard and the costs of production are typically much lower than producing them in the West or elsewhere. 
  • Actor selection: the process of choosing the right actors and ensuring that there is the right on-screen chemistry is thorough, complex, and deep. As such, we have careful planning and consideration with regard to selecting the right actors for the roles.
  • Rise in K-pop: the rise in K-pop groups and their popularity, especially in the West and in the North American markets have contributed to the furthering of the popularity of Korean dramas, series, and films.
  • Fast production times: apart from creating unique and original content, production times in Korea are much faster than elsewhere in the world, meaning higher output at must faster rates. 
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Popular genres

Korean media content, although previously associated with mild or light romance, has progressed heavily since the heydays of productions. Today, we have documentaries and scripted shows across different genres such as:

  • Romance
  • Social commentary and intrigue
  • Drama
  • Apocalytpric, etc.

Meanwhile, unscripted shows focus on:

  • Endurance
  • Zombie Survival
  • Coming of age
  • Mind games

All this diversity and the high demand for Korean content means that Korean media translation is becoming exceptionally in need. But not just any Korean media translation. Rather, high-quality Korean media translation matches the quality of the content’s output.

Meeting Demand: Investing in Korean Translation

In 2022, we saw Part one of the series The Glory released and viewed by audiences for a total of 82.48 million viewing hours. With Part 2 expected to be released in March 2023, we are seeing that there’s a great need to carry out quality Korean media translation that includes aspects that professional translators must keep in mind as they translate YouTube videos and various media in English for Western consumption.

But it’s not just English that’s a major target language. Demand for Korean media is seen from all corners of the globe and consequently, Korean media translation will play a major role in the foreseeable future as more momentum is generated and more Korean media content is released to global audiences.