Black Panther’s Korea problem

It goes without saying that Black Panther was an amazing film. Shortly after watching it, I wrote a short review praising it. Although I enjoyed seeing the characters in Korea, something about it didn’t sit right with me. An excellent post by Ask A Korean summed this up:

Black Panther’s foray into Busan begins with the city’s fish market, and nearly every Korean speaker I’ve met who watched the movie complained about “the fish market lady.” The role, played by Korean American Alexis Rhee, engages in a playful banter with Nyong’o’s character Nakia. But the playfulness of the moment is lost on a Korean speaker, because the fish market lady’s Korean is garbled to a point that it is incomprehensible. Other lines in Korean by other minor characters were also stilted and unnatural. For example, a CIA agent supposedly said “back there” in Korean, according to the subtitles. But the Korean phrase he said was as awkward as saying “behind the location.”

Like all good pieces of media, Black Panther is not beyond critique. When I watched the film on opening day at a theater in Yeouido (여의도) in Seoul, the mostly Korean audience  cracked up during the Nyong’o–Rhee exchange. And with good reason! It was awful.