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September 2012

Sample Korean Email Greetings for Chuseok

웃음이 가득한

즐거운 추석 명절 맞이하세요!

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추석을 맞이하여 행복한 시간되시기를 기원드립니다.

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한결같은 성원에 감사드리며 사랑 가득한 한가위 되시길 기원합니다.

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풍요로운 한가위 보내시고, 가정에 웃음이 가득하시기 기원합니다.

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저에게 주신 성원에 감사드리며 즐거운 추석을 기원합니다.

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늘 감사합니다. 가족 친지들과 행복 나누는 추석 보내시길 기원합니다.

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감사하고 행복한 추석, 사랑 가득한 추석, 건강한 추석, 가족과 웃음 가득한 추석 보내시길 바랍니다. 

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추석연휴, 보름달만큼 행복이 가득 넘치고, 가족과 편안하고 뜻깊은 시간 보내시길 바랍니다.

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풍성한 추석 되세요.

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이번 한가위는 가족들과 함께 편안한 시간 보내시길 바랍니다.


A Comparative Study of Organizational Commitment in Korea, China and the US

An article published in Korea (조직몰입 선행변수의 효과에 대한 국가 간 비교연구: 한국, 미국, 중국을 중심으로 - 심원술, 김진희) a few years ago studied the factors leading to organizational commitment in companies of Korea, China and the US. 

To me, the most interesting point of the article was its conclusion that the effect of horizontal relationships of workers on the commitment of those workers to their organizations was about the same in all three countries but that the authors gave different reasons for each.

  • Korea is a group-oriented culture, but workers find that relationships with coworkers are important because of the trend in Korea toward a more individual outlook on life, as well as the need to get work done through informal channels in an office environment where work roles are ambiguous. Korea was the only country of the three to show that vertical relationships between workers were also an important influence on organizational commitment, which would reflect the strongly hierarchical corporate and social structure of Korea.
  • China is also a group-oriented culture, but as it is a socialist society, corporate hierarchies are relatively flat and lower-level workers wield a relatively large amount of authority when compared with the authority of workers under a capitalistic system, in terms of decision-making and goal setting. Therefore, horizontal relationships are important in China.
  • Of course, US workers are described as being more individualistic than those in either Korea or Japan due to American ideology and the US capitalist economic tradition, and so, because of having independence and high job mobility, relationships with coworkers are important to the American worker, both in one's current job and in furthering one's career going forward. 

I'm not sure these conclusions are all warranted just from the data in the paper, but it is important to note that Asians in general (and Korean, in particular) see large social differences between themselves and other countries in Asia and don't think of themselves as just "one more Asian country".


On How to Translate Korean for Koreans Living Outside Korea

A client asked me recently whether a Korean translation written for Koreans living outside Korea should be handled differently than a translation for Koreans in Korea. He mentioned that Chinese translators have told him that Chinese living outside China (such as Chinese living in the US) speak and write differently than those living in China.

The usage of Korean in Korean communities outside Korea is different than that used in the home country. Overseas Korean is often mixed with a lot more English (or whatever language it is in the local area). In addition, for various reasons, the Korean skills of Koreans living overseas are sometimes not what would be expected in Korea.

But when handling professional translation projects, we don't translate to the lowest common denominator or produce some kind of local dialect or pidgin Korean just for the local audience. The professional writing practice for Korean always remains the Seoul gold standard.

In fact, if we tried to localize to such an extent, not only would it cost more to produce multiple versions, but it would also look funny and certainly not give the correct impression. 

Look at it this way... What if issues of the Wall Street Journal published in Texas were written in Texan?

For more on this and other translation services topics, check out my Korean Translation Services Buyer's Guide.


Korean Translation Tip: This Week's Episode of "Steven's Believe It or Not!"

I want introduce you to another language quirk in Korean that affects a lot of our projects, especially websites.

It’s the fact that Koreans rarely translate the words “Copyright” or “All rights reserved” in the footer of their websites.

I have no idea why.

But if you don’t believe me (or just want to see what I mean), check these major Korean corporate sites out:


Isn’t this crazy? Everything else on the site is in Korean, but these two phrases are left in English!

I’m afraid my team has gotten pretty beaten up over this issue over the years and is now trained to usually provide translations since Western clients generally don’t like seeing a few words left in English after they’ve paid for a Korean translation... but..

Best Practices Tip: You are actually providing a more authentic Korean translation by leaving “Copyright” and “All rights reserved” in English on a Korean website than by translating them!

Bonus Tip: Koreans do this in their books too! Check this out:

  8-8-2012 4-47-28 AM
OK, this completes this week’s episode of “Steven’s Believe It or Not”.


Korean Views on Japanese Society and Economy are Changing

Japan is a popular topic of discussion among Koreans. The themes used to focus mainly on a) how bad the Japanese were during their 34-year colonization of Korea and b) how advanced they are and that it would really be nice to catch up.

Today, the tone is much different.

Koreans still talk about how much they resent the Japanese colonization, but now that Korea's on a roll with the success of its economy and popularity of Korean culture throughout Asia (and even in Japan), and as Japan's still working through its 20-year funk, Koreans are gaining quite a bit of confidence in their analysis of Japanese society and economy and where it's all going.

9-21-2012 12-34-35 AMI remember seeing the Korean book on the right at the bookstore recently denying that the Japanese "samurai" concept is anything more than a modern myth (사무라이정신은 거짓! - The Samurai Spirit is a Lie!). A recent study by Citigroup estimates that Korea will have the 4th highest per-capita GDP in the world in about forty years (and far higher than Japan). I often hear about how the Japanese are "becoming soft" and how they've lost their motivation to succeed, as exemplified by the opinion of one Korean I heard say that Korean young people and Japanese young people don't have a lot to talk about because Japanese young people are more concerned about part-time job working conditions than they are about developing their careers. I even came across some discussion online recently about some Western fortune teller who predicted that Japan will become a Korean colony within the next thirty years; of course, this prediction was met with a lot of interest and enthusiasm by Koreans.

Recent Korean opinions about the Dokdo Island issue are pretty uniform; I have yet to find a single Korean who can express with any sympathy the Japanese argument for why the islands historically belong to Japan. The closest I've heard is the position of a professor at Hanyang University saying that because so much of Korean culture and so many Koreans (commoners, royals and artisans) emigrated to Japan over the past one or two thousand years or so, Japanese see Korea as their long-lost half and so they can't understand why Koreans behave with such independence if, in reality, they're the same people. Thus, on this argument, Japanese claims on Dokdo boil down to the idea that it doesn't really matter whether Dokdo was a recognized Korean territory long ago or whether the Japanese rightly claimed it in the late 1900s; the Japanese are just claiming what's been theirs all along.

One point I can't quite get a clear viewpoint on is whether Japan is still ahead of Korea or not. According to a recent article mentioned on Korea Business Central, the Korean standard of living is on par with that of Japan. But more commonly I hear that the Japanese economy is 4-5 times larger than the Korean one and that Korea is still decades away from catching up on a per-capita GDP basis.

In a recent conversation, the opinion came up that Japan is turning inward, as Korea is becoming more international (and in particular, more like the US, which is an assertion I hear quite a bit). When I pointed out that, from what I've heard, Tokyo is a lot more cosmopolitan than Seoul, I was told that this is only a surface thing and that the Japanese maintain a distance between themselves and anything foreign... or else they find a way to make that foreign thing Japanese. I tend to think a good number of non-Koreans would say the same things about Korea, but my point here is to draw the distinction between the Korean view of themselves and their view of Japan.


Answers to Questions on Becoming a RE-patriate from Korea

A KBC member posted this message recently:

Without getting into all the details, I've been thinking about repatriating back to my home country of the U.S. in the next year or so. I'd like to know about other people who have done the same. Did you have a job lined up before going back? How severely was your job search handicapped by the fact that you were in a foreign country while making applications?

If you had a Korean significant other, how did s/he handle the transition? Was s/he able to find employment or educational opportunities?

Anything you would do differently if you were going to do it again?

Did you make use of any career coaching or resume writing services?

Maybe the most important question: What would you recommend someone doing in terms of professional development to prepare for this kind of transition?

My life in Korea has had a series of setbacks recently, and I have family things happening in the U.S. that I'd like to be around for. My ideal situation would be to go back to the area of my education, Public Administration, in a way that builds upon my experience in Korea. Any and all thoughts are appreciated.

Thanks!

I answered with these thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear that things haven't been lining up for you in Korea. It is a fact that nearly all expatriates who come to Korea eventually return home, usually within 1-3 years. That was frustrating for me during my early years in Korea since it meant that it was very hard to form long-term friendships with other expats who then went home.

You certainly take some unique experiences and perspectives with you. But I've generally noticed that people who do go back to their home countries don't end up finding a position that perfectly complements their work in Korea. Perhaps it's just that positions back home don't include "Korea" in the job requirements. So, you'll likely need to think in more broad terms about how you've grown during your time in Korea and accept that your next job is unlikely to appreciate what you've done in Korea as much as it should.

That said, if you think carefully about the kind of job you take, you may find ways to bring out the Korea connection once you're in the position. For example, if you were to work for a large company, eventually you could maneuver your way over to the area related to Korean business.

One more recommendation for preparing to return would simply be to start your job search early so that you have something lined up before you get back.


Korean Translation Tip : A Quirk of Punctuation Usage in Korean

Do you notice something odd about the punctuation in the subject line of this post? A few months ago I had a memorable translation experience related to Korean punctuation which I’d like to share with you.

It was in regard to a translation I did of a marketing brochure for a Korean organization.

In the Korean source, there were a number of places with colons. For example:

- 지정 : 2005년 7월

My translation said:

- Designation: July 2005

Note how, in the Korean, the colon has a space before and after it. But in English, we don’t do that.

Amazingly, even though I clearly explained that it was correct to leave the colon as I had delivered, the client overruled me and changed all of the colons in the English to this:

- Designation : July 2005

This is an error which is so commonly committed in written Korean that it approaches acceptability... and in this case, became the final version of the English translation!

Korean Translation Tip: If you send English documents for translation into Korean, you should get back a Korean translation that does not put spaces before colons. However, this usage is so prevalent in Korean that even if you do get your translation back like this, it’s probably not worth the trouble to argue over.

I asked Hongil Kim--one of my long-time associates in Korea and featured on my website--about this and he provided a very helpful in-depth explanation. Here’s a translation of his response.

There isn’t a rule in Korean that says a space needs to be added before a colon. But it is what many Koreans have come to do as a habit.

The various punctuation marks used in modern Korean (,, ?, !, .) were not part of the language just one hundred years ago. We have come to use these through influence from the West.

Thus, it is correct to follow Western conventions in the use of punctuation, but oddly, it has become common practice in Korean to put a space before the colon.

Perhaps this started because early Korean computer fonts (which were double-type, rather than single-byte like English) were not able to use proportional spacing and this meant the colon was shown with a little space before it and so Koreans naturally came to accept this usage. 


Comparing Old and New Maps of the Ansan Area

I found this map section in a map of the Seoul area over at the Korean War Project. It shows Ansan from around 1950.

Old Ansan

Here's what the identical map section looks like today in Google Maps:

8-31-2012 9-49-49 PM

Note how many of the location names in the map above correspond to neighborhorhoods in the new map (notwithstanding some spelling differences.) The comparison also shows just how much of the sea has been filled in to make room for the city today.

For reference, the subway line in the current map follows the rail line shown in the old map that was built during the Japanese colonial period to connect Incheon with Suweon. Both lines are shown in red in the comparison map below and some of that old line still remains along the tracks of the subway. 

Old Ansan

For more about the modern development of Ansan.