Translator For “Parasite” Claims That “Oppa” Was The Hardest Word To Translate To English

How would you translate it?

The translator for Parasite, Darcy Parquet, has been working with film director Bong Joon Ho since his directorial debut film, Barking Dogs Never Bite. As someone with a lot of experience translating subtitles from Korean to English, even he ran into issues while working with the recent award-winning, record-breaking movie!

He recently made headlines after taking part in an interview on March 30 for EBS radio show. In the interview, he discussed his experience working on translating the subtitles for Parasite and the difficulties that came with it. He confessed that the hardest word for him to translate into English is 오빠, or oppa, because it has a lot of meaning in the word besides just “older brother”.

Just translating as ‘brother’ or replacing it with a name could work, but I thought a lot about Korean culture and the popularity of K-pop so I know what the word means. I even thought of just using the word itself in the movie.

— Darcy Parquet

Oppa isn’t the only word he had difficulty with, however. He also said 아이고 (aigo), which is a word of frustration, and 정 (jeong), a term of love and endearment, are also hard to express in English precisely. And lastly, he also brought up Korean cursing, which is expressed differently than it is in the English language!

Compared to American cursing, there are so many kinds of Korean cursing. That’s the problem.

— Darcy Parquet

Even with the difficulties, Darcy Parquet did a great job at subtitling Parasite, so it’s likely that Bong Joon Ho will keep him as the main English translator for his movies!