The famously polite Japanese media tied themselves in knots trying not to offend their readers, with national broadcaster NHK sticking to “filthy countries”.
Newswire Jiji Press translated the phrase as “countries like toilets”, using a colloquial but not necessarily vulgar term.
Meanwhile, the Sankei Shimbun added nuance by translating it as “countries as dirty as outdoor toilets”.
South Korean media largely took their cue from the country’s biggest news agency Yonhap, which rendered the term as “beggar’s den”.
The prize for the most roundabout translation has to go to Taipei’s CNA news agency who translated it as “countries where birds don’t lay eggs”.
Some countries in Southeast Asia struggled to translate the obscenity because of a lack of verbatim terminology but also due to the term itself, which might be considered too vulgar to translate literally.
Local media in Vietnam varied in strength from “dirty countries” to “rubbish countries” to “rotten countries”.
Meanwhile, Voice of America’s Thai service, which is backed by the US, printed an explanation of the word itself: “This English word could translate as a ‘hole of waste from excrement’, which reflects that he considered [them] low-class countries”. Most Chinese media picked up the story from the overseas version of the People’s Daily, which translated it as “languo”, meaning “bad countries”.