Les Misérables in Korean

I have seen advertisements for and reviews of the Korean production of the musical Les Misérables.  When we saw it in Sydney last year, I spotted a reference to the previous Korean production and wondered how they would translate the words to fit them to the music. I assume that they will translate from English rather than French.

The problems begin with the first two words. ‘Look down’ (2 syllables) is 내려다 보세요 (6 syllables), which won’t fit the 2 x two-note motif. Convicts could possibly use a lower speech level: 내려다 봐, but even that won’t fit the rhythm. Later, ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ (7 syllables) is 당신은 사람들이 노래를 듣고 있나요? (15 syllables). ‘One more day’ is 하루 만 더, but ‘One day more’ is 일일 더. Finally, ‘God on high’ is 높은 하나님; this, at least, could be rendered simply as   하나님. (All translations via Google Translate.) (Korean Wikipedia’s page on Les Misérables is very short and doesn’t provide relevant information.)

Other issues include rendering the Thenardiers’ and Gavroche’s lower-class speech, especially Madame T’s highly idiomatic last interjection in ‘Master of the house’.


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