In the South-Korean drama Crash Landing on You, a successful business woman from Seoul accidentally crash lands in North Korea. What is curious is that even though the series is in Korean, at several points throughout the movie Korean captions are displayed:

Example image of the Korean captions

Second example image of the Korean captions

This is not a full captioning, throughout the course of the initial 70 minute episode there's only about a dozen captions like this.

From inspecting the Korean SDH subtitles, I found out that the bold characters always seem to refer to a word from the spoken dialog. By running the caption through a translate app, it seems that the captions offer a description on that specific word.

But why is this necessary? What is so special about those words that they require additional explanation?

I have a suspicion, but would like to hear an answer from someone more familiar with the cultural background.

  • Wild guess… if this is anything like Japanese, with kanji [Chinese character] the sounds & glyphs are sometimes heteronyms or otherwise ambiguous & so carry a katakana or hiragana 'translation' underneath. Ref: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanji#Readings [but my Japanese is worse than elementary school level so don't ask me any questions about it ;-)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


Those are North Korean words that are not familiar to South Koreans. Due to limited cultural exchange between the two halves, the language has diverged a bit.

  • 2
    That was also my suspicion, thanks for the answer. I had the impression for instance that military jargon is frequently translated that way. If you could flesh out your answer with one or two concrete examples, I'd be happy to accept it. Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 5:21

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