Exerpts from an email exchange this week that relates to issues of translation and translation rates in Korea:
My name is ... and I currently work for a Market Research company in Seoul. We run across translations from time to time and I handle some of them but when I can't I usually depend freelance translators.
One of the problems is that sometimes they create more work me because they don't fully understand.
I noticed that you also provide translation services. Can you give me some information regarding the process and also your fee structure?
.... - Nice to hear from you.
Sure, I can do an excellent job on your work; no issues with understanding the source or expressing it well.
My rates are around US$... /English word though and most Korean clients are not ready for that. I'd be glad to do a small sample translation for you sometime if you think this price range is workable for you.
BTW, here's my full profile - https://plus.google.com/113079870950944477580/about . It includes a link to my top ranking in K>E translation from the Korean Society of Translators.
Thank you for the quick reply. I think you are right when you say that most Korea clients are not ready for the fee. Our recent market research report we did the client only paid 20,000 won per page (255 words, A4).
I don't do translation work because my work keeps me busy enough but I receive personal requests from personal contacts. Some are willing to pay around 30,000 per page but usually they ask if they could get it done for 10,000 to 20,000 KRW. I think many of the companies can't really distinguish a well translated document from a mediocre one so they look for whatever is cheaper.
When I come across a big project from us or one of our client who are willing to pay the rates you mentioned, I will contact you again.
Yeah, I know that Koreans use per-page rates rather than per-word. The problem, of course, is that all pages aren't written equally and per-word seems more objective. On a page of 250 words or so, that means my cost is around W... . I realize that's not the market price in Korea, but it's actually cheaper than I can get here.
I find that Koreans have a low opinion of translation services, regarding it as a commodity for the lowest price. As I see it, that's the basic reason behind so much Konglish being published even by top-level Korean companies and governmental organizations.
On the other hand, I've even had Koreans who can't read English properly think that my translations are Konglish, so what can you do? There are a lot of trust and credibility issues involved also. :-)
Have a good one!