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September 2009

On Translating a Korean Legal Entity Designation


On a recent translation job in the above source text, my colleague translated "유한회사" as "LLC" but I revised it to "Yuhan-Hoesa". The following is his question and my reply regarding the mattter.


In Article 1, you transliterated the word 유한회사 as 'Yuhan', which I don't quite understand. The dictionary I used said 유한회사  meant 'limited liability company' (LLC) or possibly 'Incorporated' (Inc.). I also got this impression from the Articles of Incorporation, because of the wording in the articles explaining investment units.


The issue regarding "유한회사" is one that can be confusing and different translators can legitimately take different approaches. Here’s my rationale.

The first issue in question is the translation of “유한회사” to English. The complication is that the legal form of “LLC” doesn’t exist in Korea. We can say that the most similar legal form to “유한회사” is “LLC”, but it’s still a matter of comparing apples to oranges because Korean companies are structured differently in many ways and certainly, a US-based LLC would not be recognized legally in Korea. In this case, it’s not even a US company, but a Dutch company, so we’ve got that additional complication.
But beyond that, this sentence is stipulating the way the name should be rendered in English and in Korean. But if we’re translating it to English, how do we render what essentially has to be a Korean word? The simplest and most accurate approach, in my opinion, is to transliterate, thus, I rendered it as “Yuhan-Hoesa --------------”. 
Once we get past this sentence, since the document clearly stipulates that the company name should be “---------- B.V.” when rendered in English, every other translation of "유한회사 ---------- " should be written as “---------- B.V.”.

Nojeok Hill, My View from the Top - Introduction

Several times a week, I climb Nojeok Hill near our apartment here in Ansan. It's just a 10-12 minute climb but I get pretty winded on the way up. By the time I've gone to the top and down twice, and gotten back home, the round trip takes a little over an hour. 


9-24-2009 6-51-37 AM

I've been climbing this hill since I first arrived in Korea over 15 years ago. A lot has changed for me in that time... and for my town of Ansan. Indeed, this hill has seen a lot of Korean history, and in the last 25 years, it has been at the center of incredible economic development.


9-24-2009 6-33-12 AM

Today I start a series entitled, "Nojeok Hill, My View from the Top". The first few posts won't have much to say about business, as the Korean economic miracle only started less than 50 years ago. But from this vantage point, we'll get some remarkable glimpses of how Korea became the economic player it is today, as well as some insights into where the country is headed.

Korea: A Catalyst for Change, Part 3

Back in the early 1990s when IBM was reinventing itself, Korean semiconductor companies were key players in stimulating a new IP strategy for IBM. As explained in the book Open Business Models:

"A second area of initiative within IBM to generate funds has proved to be even more innovative. IBM's need to generate profits in its semiconductor business caused it to rethink its whole approach to managing its IP, especially its patents and technology. According to Jerry Rosenthal, IBM's vice president of intellectual property in the 1990s:

"Prior to Gerstner, we only licensed our patents. An impetus for us to broaden that policy came from watching the amazing pace at which Korean firms caught up in semiconductors. They didn't just want our patents, they wanted our technology--our know-how, our trade secrets--to tell them how to use our patented technologies. And while we wouldn't give this to them, many Japanese companies would and did. As a result, Lou Gerstner agreed to open up our licensing to include licensing our technology as well as our patents after seeing this."

Today, IBM is a leader in open business models and Korean firms are leaders in the semiconductor industry. One wonders if IBM would have developed its model without the Koreans, or whether the Koreans would be such world-beaters today without IBM.

Examples like those described in this series support the view that Korea punches above its weight in terms of global business innovation impact.

Korea: A Catalyst for Change, Part 2

(contined from previous post) wasn't until 1991 that Qualcomm secured its first customer, Korean Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute! And the rest, as they say, is history.

This is a great example showing that Korea has been an early adopter of technology for a long time; just recently an article in Barrons declared that Korean Internet access is 15 years ahead of the US. Koreans are always looking for what's new and better and over the last couple decades, many non-Korean wireless IT companies have used Korea as a testbed for new technologies and standards. 

This past week, Korean President Myung-Bak Lee announced $151 billion of government investment over three years into the IT sector, believing that this area represents the basis for Korean economic strength for the future. (Click here for an article about it in the English online version of the Joongang Daily.)

Looking back over the last 20 years of Korean economic history, it's no surprise that way back in 1991, Korea would have been the first customer for Qualcomm and the catalyst of this global technological change, or that today, Korea would be a leader in the IT sector, having been willing to look for the next big thing and to take risks and find opportunities in areas that are overlooked.

But this wasn't the only example in Open Business Models of how Korea has promoted global business change...

Korea: A Catalyst for Change, Part 1

One of my professors at Hanyang University here in Korea is an expert on innovation and the means through which innovation can be fostered within companies and countries. He advocates an "open innovation" approach where intellectual property is more widely available and accessed, and as part of my studies with him, he recommended a couple books by Henry Chesbrough, a professor at the University of California at Berkely who was named a "Top 50 Innovator" by Scientific American.

9-3-2009 4-02-13 AM

I just finished Chesbrough's latest book, Open Business Models, which maps out the ways companies can succeed in the new innovation landscape. And I was struck by two, very interesting examples, where Korea and Korean companies have been catalysts for the business development of US companies. Today's post will start with the first example.

Qualcomm, of southern California, is a leading US IT company which operates under a highly profitable business model based on maximizing the value of its intellectual property. But few people realize the extent to which its rise followed from a lot of risk, luck and hard work. 

The company struggled for over six years to get its CDMA technology into the market. As this method of transmitting wireless signals was unproven, few were willing to take a risk on it when other technologies commanded the market. Finally in 1989 and 1990, Qualcomm demonstrated its technology by setting up actual networks in Los Angeles and New York City... And then...

(to be continued)