Everyone’s jumping on board the netizen comment translating trend lately, and as I’ve been learning a little Korean lately some people have asked me if I might ever consider or be interested in doing the same. Never one to forsake a good bandwagon, Kpopalypse is now here to answer two pertinent questions:
- What’s with the explosion in netizen comment translating happening lately?
- Will Kpopalypse ever enter the tough and competitive field of translating netizen comments, and if so, which ones?
Come on a journey now with Kpopalypse into the wonderful world of translating netizen comments!
To answer the first question, we’re going to need to delve into…
A SHORT AND PROBABLY WILDLY INACCURATE AND WORTHLESS ANCIENT HISTORY OF NETIZEN COMMENT TRANSLATIONS FOR PEOPLE WHO WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT THE FUCK I’M EVEN TALKING ABOUT
Netizen (Internet citizen) comments on k-pop articles were always a feature of k-pop press releases as long as k-pop and the Internet existed, where the press-release writers often added a few comments at the bottom of each article from Internet users to give a general feel for what the public was thinking about whatever the subject of the article was (example here). These comments were included because the Korean entertainment industry isn’t mature and smart enough to say “fuck what some random idiots think” and therefore actually do base a lot of their business decisions on netizen comment. However the comments included in the articles themselves weren’t usually real but just paraphrased versions of what netizens were saying, and sometimes completely inaccurate because often these “news” articles weren’t really bona-fide news anyway but just press releases paid for by the k-pop companies given straight to the media outlets who would post them up as “news articles” for a fee, so they’re not going to put anything up there that makes their investment (idols) look too bad.
With the rise of k-pop globally, these articles would get translated to English, with the fake netizen comments intact. The continual supply of fake or paraphrased comments in articles naturally created a demand from international readers who didn’t understand Korean to know what the real netizen comments were on these articles, as they couldn’t check this themselves.
The first site I was aware of that catered to this growing audience was Netizenbuzz, which translated the actual Korean netizen comments (generally a mixture of worthless moronic cyberbullying, shallow surface-level cynicism and laughable kindergarten-level detective work) into English. Now English-speaking fans didn’t have to take the word of the press releases, they could go to Netizenbuzz and get the “real deal”. Young and impressionable English-speaking fans bred on cruel “reality” TV and Internet culture that celebrates the loudest and dumbest saw the bone-headed Korean hive-mind laid bare, mostly thought it was fantastic and copied the Koreans’ thoughts and ideas down to the letter, spreading the (lack-of)-thought-cancer outward to their own fandoms.
However not all k-pop fans liked the translations. A lot of people weren’t very happy with the way Netizenbuzz did comment translation, and as the only well-known published English source of such translations, there were no alternative sources. K-pop followers often found their favourite groups were neglected just because they weren’t popular enough with Korean netizens for Netizenbuzz to bother translating their articles. Even worse, fans of certain groups found that they had been negatively editorialised…
…while other groups more favoured by the author received preferential editorial treatment.
For all the site’s faults, Netizenbuzz (which I generally will link) still did/does a far better job of bringing news to k-pop fans than the likes of Allkpop (which I generally won’t link) but nevertheless this selective process and lack of impartiality which Netizenbuzz has never convincingly addressed to my knowledge has caused many readers to redirect their attentions. Other k-pop comment translating sites such as K-pop K-fans, didn’t contain the same biases and thus were willing to go places that Netizenbuzz would not, redressing the balance of opinion to some degree.
A myriad of other smaller sites also sprung up, devoted to seeking out and translating comments on articles about individual groups and catering to those groups’ fandoms. Now everybody had their own little pocket version of Netizenbuzz with only positive (and dull – unless you’re a fan) comments geared just towards them.
The problem with all this rabid translating everywhere is that the increased focus on netizen comments means that those comments are now being given even more unjustified importance than previously, and this focus isn’t just limited to Korea any more. Therefore when new scandals arise, fans reading comment sites still fall into the same old patterns of believing anything they read as long as it fits what seems likely inside their own bias-fuelled heads, and rumour-mongers now have more power to wreck the careers of completely innocent people not just in Korea but internationally with little more than some imagination and some Photoshop editing.
The hive-mind effect is so extreme than even when ironclad evidence of fabricated charges emerges, people are unwilling to come around to the truth. This is a well-known psychological phenomenon – research shows that people who believe in lies tend to strengthen their belief in the lie when they are proven wrong. Once someone is heavily invested in a lie, it’s humiliating for them to admit that they spent time and energy believing in falsehood – it’s psychologically less painful to just keep believing whatever they believed before than to accept new contradictory information, especially if the new information is true. Even more strangely, if the person believing in the lie is intelligent, convincing them of the truth is even more difficult, as intelligent people are better at rationalising their pre-existing beliefs!
So what’s the solution? Welcome to:
KPOPALYPSE’S NETIZEN COMMENT TRANSLATION TOOL
I’m too lazy to translate comments, but due to the magic of a few friends with some website coding smarts, I’ve recently developed a netizen comment translation tool which takes all the hard work out of comment translation. The coding for it is apparently super-special and the results given are much more accurate than Google Translate or other such sites, and it works for all Korean netizen comments. Here’s how the tool works:
- Find a netizen comment
- Highlight it with your mouse pointer and press CTRL+C
- Click the button below
- Press CTRL+V
- Click the second button that appears
- Marvel at the magic of modern translation technology
Now you have (hopefully) a perfect netizen translation! However if not, please report any bugs to me by commenting below, and we’ll work to refine the tool so it works better for the future. The tool is in its infancy so we’re always looking at ways to refine the code. Thanks for reading and Kpopalypse will be back soon!