I just got to know about this Korean movie called Memories of Murder and I feel it's a masterpiece but looks like it wasn't released in English/Hindi languages. I understand these 2 languages only.

So the last resort is to watch it using just English subtitles. I had a similar experience before when I didn't know a South Indian language movie, but since it was Indian culture, and there were some Hindi dialogues, I managed with subtitles.

But in this case, I know nothing about Korean language.

So I feel:

  1. If I watch it using just subtitles, I would be just forcing myself to watch it, I might not enjoy real emotions
  2. I might be a rare user who is experiencing a situation like this and would watch like this with just subtitles

But since I don't have much experience in watching movies like this when you don't understand language, I don't know if it's common to watch without understanding language.

So is it common to watch movies with just subtitles when you don't understand the language?

  • 2
    All of it. The whole question is asking about a personal preferences so that's off-topic
    – Paulie_D
    Jun 3, 2021 at 11:54
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    Maybe I'm overlooking something but this question seems kind of obvious... if you can't understand the spoken language then yes, literally the only other way to comprehend what they're saying is to read subtitles in a language you can read. I mean, you could watch without subtitles but then you won't understand anything. If given the option, 100% of the time I will choose the native language audio with English subs.. never dub. This is complete personal preference though, hence the opinion-based VTC.
    – Charles
    Jun 3, 2021 at 14:20
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    @Vikas Yes. From my experience, subtitles are much more accurate to the native language than audio dubbing is. I also personally like hearing foreign languages and the different inflections, tones, etc., that come with it. You lose near all of that with dubs.
    – Charles
    Jun 3, 2021 at 14:28
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    @Charles thanks. I'm gonna watch it tonight then :D
    – Vikas
    Jun 3, 2021 at 14:30
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    "Is it common" is an objective question not an issue of opinion. What are the alternatives (ie dubbing) is also objective. Whether dubbing is better is subjective; what are the pros and cons of dubbing versus subtitles is leaning towards objective. So I'm voting to reopen (though perhaps the question should be edited a little with those considerations).
    – matt_black
    Jun 3, 2021 at 15:55

3 Answers 3


It's difficult to answer a question like this, as it is strongly about personal opinion.

I will try to give a short answer related to french people (it might be different for english natives).

For people since my generation (born in the 80/90) and that are globaly 'geeks', you only watch a movie in the original dub (if available). It does not matter if it's french, english, russian, japanese, chinese or hindi. The other people tends to consider us snooty because of it.
And this in one of the countries with the best dubbing. So the quality of the dub is not even an argument here (but it can be in other countries).

It's up to the point that one big brand of movie theater in Paris only show movies in original dub (with french subtitles), since at least 2002.

example for the biggest movie theater in Paris (and therefore France) :
VF means French dub. VOST means Original dub with french subtitle.
At the moment of this message, I notice a detective conan movie that I assume will be in japanse. And a Demon slayer one that should be the same. (and of course a lot of English movies).

So yes, in Paris it's common to watch movies in another language with subtitle. I think it should be the same for all France.
In my personal case, as a french it's even common to watch movies in another language with english subtitles (thanks to dvd and then netflix).

  • I assume when you say "you only watch a movie in original dub" or "in my personal case, as a french . . .", you admit that you don't know the original audio language? I mean you just understand the subtitles and not the audio language.
    – Vikas
    Jun 3, 2021 at 12:21
  • 80% of the movie I personnaly watch are in english that I understand (or french). But I watch a lot of japanese mangas (I understand yamete and senpai] and occasionaly chinese, russian or spain (casa del papel). My point here is that I don't care if I understand it or not. I'll watch it in the original dub if available. All my frends do the same. Of course I can't tell for all french people.
    – dna
    Jun 3, 2021 at 12:27
  • so if you don't understand suppose a Chinese movie but movie is available in English dub also, you'd prefer Chinese? You won't feel like you missed the emotions?
    – Vikas
    Jun 3, 2021 at 12:44

Am I the only user? No.

Is it common? Not sure. Apparently no.

But, many people do watch movies with just subtitles when you don't understand audio language.

I Googled a lot about this and I saw many discussions on Reddit which were asking if they could find an English subtitle for this movie. Which means there are users who watch with just understanding the subtitles.


While I could not say if it is common I do know that Korean dramas with subtitles in English are vey popular. By using subtitles you will hear the actor’s own expression in their voice. Speaking personally I find watching a Korean drama easier where I have only picked up the odd word, than German or French, where I find the subtitles distracting as I try to match them to what I hear.

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