.... When I watch a Korean show, I am always disappointed that they use people's names constantly, unlike what the characters (and actual Koreans) would do or are doing . . . It is not common in western society to refer to relatives or friends by titles (aunt, older brother, president) rather than their name. I think the current philosophy of Korean translation is that we're too dumb to "get it."
I’m going to offer a slightly contrary viewpoint here.
Does anyone recall the early episodes of “The Bizarre Bunch,” where Jong-nam is introduced, and we discover that her boyfriend had died? And then, a few episodes later, we heard that her brother had died, too!
Turned out she didn’t have a brother; the subtitler (presumably, a native Korean speaker) confused Jong-nam’s use of the word “oppa,” and took it to mean “brother,” when she really meant “boyfriend.”
Now, if a native Korean speaker can even get things like this confused, how about us poor English-only Americans?
Personally (as if it’s up to me) I’d prefer that terms like “sister” or “aunt’ be used instead of proper names, but only if the person in question really is the character’s sister or aunt. If the character is calling her best friend “onni” (because she looks up to her best friend like a big sister) then I’d really rather have the subtitler make it clear that it’s her best friend, and not her big sister.
What a great thread. Now I understand what was constantly happening in “The Road Home” when characters were calling each other things that weren’t their names and the subtitles were showing the names. A couple of times before Hyeonsu and Suin were married, Hyeonsu called Mr. Han “father” and I didn’t understand it. Finally I get it, better late than never. I wish they wouldn’t mess with the subtitles like that. Obviously there are some tough calls like mikey pointed out, but if they’re going to use only the proper names then people are going to have no clue about that facet of their culture.
Anyway…candylover, I appreciate the follow-up. It particularly struck me that you cited the real character Xue Rengui and the fictional character Hong Pei. Because for Xue Rengui, what was subtitled wasn’t what we heard (subtitles went back to original Chinese like you explained), but for Hong Pei, what we saw was exactly what we heard. No original Chinese pronunciation to go back to!
I do see your point about the benefit of getting both versions. Personally I’d rather they just gave us the one and hope that Googling the one would lead us to the other, if only because it would be less confusing for those of us who are trying to absorb this stuff for the first time. But I suppose as our comfort level gets higher, these things get clearer.
And the best news of all: Maybe we can find a way to blame part of this on Kim Jong-Il!