Netflix hit Squid Game highlights localization pain points

MultiLingual was among the first to report on the translation issues surrounding the Netflix smash hit, Squid Game. Since then, international media seized upon the story, from CNN to NBC and beyond. 

The latest comes from Rest of World, which provides the clearest picture yet of the issues plaguing Squid Game’s localization process. According to the article, Netflix paid $13 per minute for translation from Korean audio to English subtitles. But the translators themselves saw little of that payout. 

It’s emblematic of the labor shortage that could beset the entertainment industry as international media surges in popularity. As the Rest of World article points out, low wages for translators may contribute to a forthcoming localization crunch. Only time will tell how severely labor shortages will impact international entertainment. 

That’s a problem that could affect all markets, particularly non-English languages. According to a recent study by the Entertainment Globalization Association, 10% of respondents in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain encountered localization problems every day, 18% at one or two times a week, 33% at one or two times a month, and 25% one or two times a year. Only 13% reported no issues at all. 

Whether it’s the ongoing labor shortage or chatter over fan theories, it seems Squid Game has a place in every current-events conversation. Even Saturday Night Live got in on Squid Game‘s localization challenges in a recent episode featuring Rami Malek and Pete Davidson.

With news that Squid Game Season Two is coming sometime down the line, it’s unlikely to lose relevance any time soon — assuming the translation industry can keep up.   

Cameron Rasmusson
Cameron Rasmusson is a writer and journalist. His first job out of the University of Montana School of Journalism took him to Sandpoint, Idaho as a staff writer for the Bonner County Daily Bee. Since 2010, he's honed his skills as a writer and reporter, joining the MultiLingual staff in 2021.


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