Concerns Raised Over “Korean Ariel” NewJeans Danielle’s Awkward Pronunciation and Lack of Acting Experience
While the controversy over her singing ability has been put to rest, concerns remain about NewJeans Danielle’s dialogue delivery in “The Little Mermaid”.
On May 2nd, Disney Korea confirmed the production of the Korean dubbed version of the movie “The Little Mermaid” and announced that actor Jung Sang Hoon was cast as Sebastian and musical actor Jung Young Joo was cast as Ursula.
Along with this, the casting for Ariel was kept a secret, with only the silhouette revealed. Netizens speculated that the silhouette of Ariel was the same as NewJeans Danielle‘s, and this speculation immediately sparked controversy.
The voice of Ariel in the Korean version of “The Little Mermaid” OST teaser, “Part of Your World,” is deemed awkward, and the Korean pronunciation is inaccurate.
Even before the official announcement of the Korean Ariel’s identity, controversy arose over Danielle’s casting. Some netizens raised concerns about Danielle’s singing ability and Korean pronunciation, stating that she was not suitable for the role of Ariel in Korea.
Danielle made her debut as part of NewJeans in July 2022 and has been active as an idol for less than a year. Furthermore, Danielle is a dual citizen with an Australian father and a Korean mother. Although she has lived between Australia and Korea, she has reportedly not received formal education in Korea.
Subsequently, it was officially announced that Danielle was cast as the Korean Ariel, and the full video of Danielle’s “Part of Your World” was released.
The overall reaction is better than when the teaser was released. The notable point is Danielle’s pure and clear voice. Her innocent voice matches well with the image of Ariel, who is curious about the human world.
The high notes that she sang softly and cleanly also sound stable, successfully mitigating some of the controversies surrounding her singing ability.
However, Danielle’s Korean pronunciation is still inaccurate, and her intonation is somewhat awkward, resulting in a decrease in the delivery of the lyrics. The lyrics are understandable to a certain extent if you know them, but without subtitles, the immersion can be reduced.
While Danielle managed to quell the singing controversy through the release of the full OST video, concerns regarding her Korean pronunciation persist.
The Korean public is skeptical about whether Danielle can deliver lines smoothly in the Korean dubbed version.
In the case of singing, pronunciation issues are not as prominent as they blend with the melody, but for acting and dubbing, the ability to convey lines is essential.
If the pronunciation of Ariel by Danielle is awkward and difficult for Korean children to understand, the purpose of the Korean version of “The Little Mermaid” may be undermined.
This is not the only issue. Danielle’s lack of acting experience is also a concern. Dubbing requires tremendous preparation, as the voice actor or actress must convey emotions and dialogues solely with their voices.
In fact, even professional actors hesitate before taking on such roles. For example, the dubbed version of Japanese animation “Your Name” (directed by Makoto Shinkai) faced harsh criticism from original fans for its subpar quality when actors Ji Chang Wook and Kim So Hyun were cast for the main characters’ dubbing. Subsequently, the distributor of “Your Name” re-dubbed it with professional voice actors and re-released the Korean dubbed version. Considering this, there is valid concern about whether Danielle, who has no acting experience, can satisfy the audience with such a dubbing challenge.
Overall, it is natural that many fans are raising doubts about Walt Disney Korea’s decision to cast Danielle as Ariel. While they might aim to gain promotional effects by using Danielle, a member of NewJeans, who is popular among the MZ generation, there are mixed concerns that this might instead have an adverse effect.
While casting a popular actor or idol can significantly aid in promotion, there is a clear reason why many production companies still use professional voice actors for dubbing. An insider mentioned, “There is a temptation to use famous actors or idols for dubbing when importing foreign films and producing Korean dubs. However, dubbing requires more professionalism than you might think, and there have often been instances where the quality suffered when an actor or idol performed.”
They also hinted, “While promotion is good, maintaining the uniqueness of the work in the Korean dubbed version is the most important, so we carefully select from professional voice actors.”
Walt Disney Korea has cast Danielle, who has virtually no acting experience and is only a year into her career, as Ariel for the Korean version of “The Little Mermaid”, a movie with many fans. Though her Korean might be a bit awkward, it remains to be seen whether Danielle’s Ariel, with her huge fandom, will be a boon or a bane for the Korean box office.
However, it is worth considering why many foreign blockbusters have been dubbed by professional voice actors, rather than actors or idols.