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Letting the Korean out

In my last post, I mentioned MySoju’s place where English-speaking folks can get their drama addiction fix in Korean style. This time, I want to offer some tips on getting Korean out of your movies and TV shows.We’re going to be putting Korean subtitles on our favorite video.

“Why would I want to do that?” Mr. or Ms. Waygookin might wonder, even aloud, at this juncture. There are couple of good reasons an English speaking person might want to have Korean subtitles.

First, not everyone you are watching TV with may be fluent enough in English to follow along without them. My wife falls into this category.  Although she and I communicate just fine in a highly evolved Konglish, watching an English language show without subtitles is not possible for her.  Second, maybe the people you’re with are fluent, but don’t want to extend their work day by engaging in an activity that is taxing. Remember, watching TV or a movie is supposed to be entertainment. Be a good host or hostess and offer your Korean guests their choice of subtitles or not. Third, and not insignificantly, is that subtitles are a great way to augment learning a new language.  By both reading the Hanguel and listening to the dialogue, one can improve vocabulary and grammar understanding.  I’ve picked up several words and phrases in this way. It’s also a great way to improve your reading speed. I’m still not able to read long sentences before they’re off the screen, but I keep improving.

So, having given you the motivation to get them, here’s how to do it.

  1. Get a movie or tv show on to your computer. Oh, sure, I could tell you how to do that but I bet most of you already know how to download media.  So, start with your own video clip and we’ll move on to step 2.
  2. If you’re on a Microsoft Windows computer, the easiest thing to do is download a free video player that will help.  GOM Player is a Korean video tool (way more than a player) that has special functions to download and install subtitles.   First, go to the GomTV site and get the player.  The page will be all in Korean – don’t worry. You either translate the page if you have a translator such as comes with Google Toolbar or just click the 2nd link from the top in the orange box on the left to get the player.  Install and you’re set.  Go to step 4.
  3. If you don’t run windows, or just don’t want to run a Korean language program, download VLC, a very capable player that can do subtitles and runs on everything and opens nearly every media type known to the world.  Make sure you change the character encoding to Korean (EUC-KR/CP949) and see that it uses a font capable of displaying Korean – I use the Gulim True type font.
  4. Go get some subtitles. GomTV not only has a player but a vast database of subtitles for thousands upon thousands of movies and tv shows. Go to the 자막 database and search for whatever title you wish.  The trick here is to match the video clip you have with the subtitle that will synchronize with it.  Let’s say, for example, that I found a copy of Avatar and wanted to watch it with my wife.  Go ahead and try that name in the 자막 search engine.  You’ll see a couple of dozen versions of subtitles that people fluent in both English and Korean, out of the goodness of their hearts, have created, just for you. That’s because there also a couple of dozen versions of the movie itself floating around on the internet because someone else ripped it off from the DVD or took a video-camera into a theater to make a copy of it – all out of the goodness of their hearts, too, we should presume.  If you cannot find the exact same name, you may still be able to find a subtitle file that will work. Clicking on a subtitle listed in the search, will take you to a 다운로드 (download, phonetically spelled in Hanguel) page where you can see the size of the video the subtitle file was create against. If the size matches the size of the video clip you have it will likely, although not always, work.   If your search is successful (not all shows and mnovies have subtitles created) you’ll end up with a .SMI file.
  5. Starting playing your movie. Drag and drop the .SMI file you just downloaded onto the playing video of either GomPlayer or VLC.  If Mars and Jupiter lined up and you happened to have downloaded the proper subtitle file to match  your video clip you’re money!  Sit back and watch your show  한글자막있어요.
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