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The Story Behind Subtitles On Viki: A 1-on-1 With The “True Beauty” Subtitle Team

Have you ever wondered about how Asian dramas get subtitles in different languages for fans across the world to enjoy the fun?

To get a behind-the-scenes look at how it works, we talked to contributors on Viki, a global streaming platform for Asian entertainment powered by fans—there are subtitles in various languages all thanks to the fans who contribute their efforts. For some more background on how it works, it is important to understand what segmenters and subtitlers are. Segmenters lay the foundation for subtitles by cutting a video into timed compartments called segments. Subtitlers are the ones who do the translating, and there are separate subtitlers for English and for other languages. English subtitlers translate from the video’s original language into English, while subtitlers of other languages use the English subtitles to translate into other languages.

The two contributors we spoke to both worked on the 2020 hit “True Beauty,” a webtoon-based K-drama starring Moon Ga Young, Cha Eun Woo, and Hwang In Yeop. Esther Velásquez (pilar_velasquez) is a Spanish subtitler who started in 2013 with “A Hundred Year’s Inheritance,” nearing almost a decade as a contributor. Génesis Germán (Geniyethis) began subtitling for Viki in 2020 when she worked on “True Beauty,” and she currently contributes as a Spanish and Portuguese subtitler as well as a segmenter.

Find out more about what it’s like to take part in the subtitling magic from the contributors themselves:

What were some of your favorite shows that you’ve worked on, and why?

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Esther Velásquez: Overall, I like all the projects I‘ve worked on, but “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim,” “Master’s Sun,” and “Heirs” are especially important to me because my favorite actors appeared in them and because I felt the passion for those dramas from the viewers and from the team itself.

Génesis Germán:Can’t Run Away from Love,” “The Full-Time Wife Escapist,” “Liar,” “Anitomo,” “Why Women Love,” “Check Out the Event,” etc. These dramas are my favorites because they have taught me that things take time to achieve and you have to be perseverant in life as in love. Also, I learned from these shows that sometimes you have to risk to win, and that even if we lose, we will win something that is perhaps more important, even if we don’t see it that way at the moment.

What do you enjoy most about being a subtitler/segmenter?

Esther Velásquez: I think what I enjoy the most about contributing to Viki is knowing that my work helps expand the reach for Asian content, making it more accessible to people all around the world.

Génesis Germán: What I enjoy most is the time spent with my teams in translating and editing, wanting to do an excellent job and bring good translations with high quality so that viewers feel it’s worth using the Viki app or watching the shows on the website. I also really enjoy segmenting because now I understand the whole translation process better.

Do you have a favorite scene from “True Beauty” that you worked on?

Esther Velásquez: I don’t have a particular scene in mind, but I really enjoyed the zany situations the protagonist got into, and those always made me laugh.

Génesis Germán: My favorite scene is from episode 14 when Seo Joon finally decides to tell Ju Kyung the truth and calls her, asking her to meet to confess his feelings to her. I also really liked when Ju Kyung and Su Ho had a little fight over Seo Joon. That was a really funny scene.

If you were to recommend one drama or movie on Viki to someone new to Asian entertainment, which would you recommend and why?

Esther Velásquez: I would recommend “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim” because it’s a drama that has it all: good actors, a great story, and it’s really addictive.

Génesis Germán: I would choose the J-drama “Can’t Run Away from Love” because it’s a short and entertaining drama with easy translations, translation notes, excellent actors, good chemistry, and a very well-written plot.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to get involved in subtitling/segmenting?

Esther Velásquez: Start small. It’s best to look for a smaller drama, learning how it’s done in a more laid-back environment, and working your way from there after getting more experience and confidence.

Génesis Germán: If you want to be a translator or segmenter, I advise you to really love what you are doing because this is an altruistic hobby. Whatever you are going to do, do it so that the viewer feels happy for the time spent watching the show you worked on.

Watch “True Beauty” on Viki:

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Want to learn more about becoming a contributor for Viki? Read more here!

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