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December 2012

2013 New Year's Greetings

Untitled

1.

희망찬 새해를 맞이하여 만사형통을 진심으로 기원드립니다.

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2.

희망 가득한 새해를 맞이하여 언제나 건강과 행복을 기원합니다.

올해 베풀어 주신 은혜에 깊이 감사드리며

2013년에도 [our company] 에 변함없는 성원을 부탁드립니다.

새해 복 많이 받으십시오.

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3.

지난 한 해 [our company]에 보여 주신 사랑에 고개숙여 감사드립니다.

올해도 기대에 보답하는 [our company]가 되겠습니다.

밝아오는 2013년 새해에는 모든 일들이 성취되기를 기원하며

언제나 건강하시고 새해 복 많이 받으세요.

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4.

안녕하세요!

 

올 한해

저희에게 베풀어주신 배려에 깊이 감사합니다.

 

새해에도 늘 건강하시고

하시고자하는 일 모두 성취하시어

복 많이 받으시고 날마다 웃음이 가득하시기를 기원합니다.

 

아울러, 가정에 만복이 깃들기를 바랍니다.

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5.

즐거운 연말 연시 보내세요.

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6.

이번 2013년에도 [recipient's name]의 하시는 모든 일이 잘 이루어지고 가족 모두에게 건강과 행복이 늘 함께 하기를 기원합니다!

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7.

즐거운 성탄절 보내세요

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For lots more options from previous years: #1, #2 & #3

 


Answer to a Client Question - "Do you/your team feel comfortable enough to deliver this project without editing?"

On a recent English > Korean project for an agency client, I gave the project manager the choice of translation-only by one professional translator or, for a bit more, translation and proofreading by separate linguists. Some clients work on a budget that doesn't allow the additional proofreading step at all, some jobs don't really warrant the extra effort, certain clients utilize a third-party proofreader after we deliver our translation, and quite a number (including all of my direct clients, since it's included in the base price) just have us handle both steps internally, where we deliver the original translation file and the intermediate file showing proofreader changes (for internal auditing purposes) and the final proofread files (for delivery to the end client). 

Occasionally though I get feedback like, "Do you/your team feel comfortable enough to deliver this project without editing?" Another variation on this question is, "We don't have enough budget for a proofreader so please be sure the translator proofs his/her own work extra well."

This kind of client feedback puts me in a difficult situation. I don't want to admit that our translation service might be less than perfect at the base price (which is already not the lowest price in town), but it's also reasonable to expect and explain that adding a proofreader to the process will usually result in a better job. This is especially true for my teams that have been doing the translation-proofreading process for a a long time for me on thousands of projects.

In fact, when a client brings in a third-party proofreader or the end client uses an internal Korean speaker to proofread our work themselves, it isn't uncommon for the result to actually get worse because of the reviewer not understanding well what a proofreading process should encompass, and often results in new errors being introduced. This can also result in the sticky situation of whether or not to charge for also reviewing a reviewer's feedback.

At any rate, the way I answered the client on this question on the recent project is as follows:

It depends what the work is going to be used for. If just for the information, then trans-only is fine. If for publishing, well, multiple rounds of proofreading are pretty standard in the news business, and even for professional writers who aren't having to work in two languages. A second set of eyes is always a good idea, but of course, it does take time and cost money.

This reminds me of a little research I did on the topic with my brother-in-law who does work in the news business.


Get a Job in Korea: "How do I apply for a job in Korea? Can you break it down for me, step by step?"

The following was extracted from a recent interview with me about how to find a job in Korea. 


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"How do I apply for a job in Korea?  Can you break it down for me, step by step?"

"Sure. The first thing you need to know is that Korean companies have completely different processes for hiring Koreans and non-Koreans. You’re not going to get very far by looking on Korean job boards for positions in Korean companies; those jobs are for Koreans.

Jobs for non-Koreans are far fewer and generally not posted through such traditional channels. Sites like Korea Business Central offer an outlet for these job postings and you should check here and at other sites, most of which we link to for you!

But many hirings just don’t go through a public process and this is where a strong business network like we can help you build here on KBC is crucial.

As for applying, it’s generally a good idea to translate your resume and cover letter to Korean. Even if the person reviewing applications speaks and reads English well, they will still prefer to read a Korean document, as will their boss, who is probably the final decision maker. It also shows your commitment to the position and sets you apart from many of the others who haven’t made this effort.

After submitting your resume, make sure you follow-up, especially if you don’t get a reply. A phone call is good here. Be as cordial as possible and find a way to help the person in charge remember who you are and do so in a way that communicates an extra interest in the position and in Korea, such as by making an attempt to speak Korean or pointing out any Korea-related certifications or other achievements."

Visit Korea Business Central for more information on getting a job in Korea, including the full video of this interview.


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Tips for Handling Your Korean Translations (Tips #1-8)

Over the last several months, I've posted seven translation tips here, each with a Best Practices Tip, to help readers and translation clients handle their Korean-language projects better.

In case you missed any of them, here they are again. (BTW, most of these will take you less than 30 seconds to read.)

  1. How to Avoid a Major Korean Translation Error Like this One in the Google Android Interface
  2. Don't Make Errors Like This One in the Microsoft Windows 7 Korean Interface
  3. What to Make of the Standard Korean Greeting/Questions Hybrid
  4. Avoid Getting Tripped Up by This Quirk of Punctuation Usage in Korean
  5. Sometimes a Good Korean Translation DOESN'T Translate Important Stuff
  6. "Dear Mr. & Mrs. So-and-So" Isn't What You'd Expect in Korean
  7. Don't Sweat Text Length Limitations in Korean, Especially for Online Localization
  8. Literal Korean Translation of Holiday Greetings May Not Be Your Best Approach

Lots more tips on the way....


Build a Business in Korea: "Knowing Korea has a reputation for being difficult, what do I need to be "warned about" when it comes to working with vendors, suppliers, and service providers in Korea?"

The following was extracted from a recent interview with me about how to build a business in a Korean company. 


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"Knowing Korea has a reputation for being difficult, what do I need to be "warned about" when it comes to working with vendors, suppliers, and service providers in Korea?"

"We’ve covered this at length on KBC too, in particular in our interviews with Peter Bartholomew, Peter Underwood and Tom Coyner (all of which are available for free in the KBC community.)

Perhaps the #1 challenge foreigners face is in the different concept of contracts in Korean business culture. While Korean multinationals operate at global standards, once you get down to the small to medium-sized company levels, you’ll find that agreements often require ongoing attention and interpretation. This is also why business networking is so important and why knowing how to build and maintain business relationships in Korea the right way is a key success factor.

I would also point out that Korean customers frequently have exceptionally high expectations for the speed and quality of service and you should be prepared to provide these in order to compete effectively.

Finally, in the consumer market particularly, there’s a fine line between an interest in foreign products, and a preference for local goods. Therefore, aligning your marketing message to the local market is a crucial step."

Visit Korea Business Central for more information on doing business in Korea, including the full video of this interview.


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Learn more about the KBC Professional Certification Program to be more successful in your career in Korea.


What's Wrong with Teaching English in Korea?

A KBC member sent me the following question last week:

Hello Steven,

Thank you for this website.  It's an extremely valuable, interactive and informative place for people like me looking for work in Korea.

I'm 38 Korean American who came to the States when I was 14 (back in 1988).  I served in the U.S. military for 4 years, completed my undergrad in business administration and have been in IT support positions for past 12 years, but mainly in desktop support, network operation center and currently helpdesk.  Not exactly the most sought-after IT positions even in the States these days.  

Based on my limited research, reading many discussions and contents on your site and along with visiting many expat blogs, I'm beginning to appreciate how tight the job market is in Korea and how difficult it can be to achieve and maintain a decent standard of living on a salary man's earning.........let alone save enough to buy home (which does not seem to be possible for most).

I've checked out a few job sites such as Indeed, Myjobs.kr and other online job boards.  I got one call back after responding to a tech support job and was told that I'm too old (in a nice way).

My reason for wanting to work in Korea is a personal one:  I met someone.  She lives and works in Seoul.  
My Korean is fluent (even though my writing and typing skill sets are rusty).  

You've been in Korea longer than me.  In your own experience and exposure to fellow expat as well as Korean Americans in ESL industry, do I have a decent chance to find a work teaching English considering my age?

I read one of the forum where [one member] talks about being careful with switching career field just for the sake of finding work in Korea.  It hit home and yet I'm seriously considering doing just that.

My head tells me that I'm about to make a huge career suicide, but honestly, I won't miss leaving my current field.  Coming to Korea isn't about making money or career.  And I doubt that I'll look for long-term work beyond a year at most.  Then again, I have no idea where I will be in another year.  I never thought I would think about working in Korea at the beginning of this year.  

My apology for long email, but I wanted to hear from someone who's been there and done that for over 20 years in Korea.  Please feel free to be as brutal and direct as you need to be.

[KBC member]

The crux of this member's question is whether teaching English in Korea can be a valid stepping stone to other opportunities in Korea. Here's what I replied:

[KBC member] - Thanks for the note.

In the case of the member referenced in your email, he already had a career track, so coming to Korea to teach English would not have moved him forward; it would have put serious question marks on his commitment to his field. But as you mentioned, you aren't particularly attached to your current occupation and so you've got less to lose.

Sure, an English teaching position isn't exactly prestigious, but it is easy to get and will pay the bills. And so if you really want to come to Korea and you haven't found a better option, then why not? 

Good luck!

Steven


Thrive in a Korean Company: "What are a few very important things I must do to get on the fast track for advancement in a Korean company?"

The following was extracted from a recent interview with me about how to thrive in a Korean company. 


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"What are a few very important things I must do to get on the fast track for advancement in a Korean company?"

"The first thing is to be realistic.

"Korean companies don’t hire foreigners for high-level positions except in very rare cases, a few of which we’ve featured on Korea Business Central. If you’re working for an overseas office of a Korean company, you may advance several ranks up, but in most cases, Korean companies dispatch employees from head office to man the highest positions.

The career track and job terms for Korean employees are completely different from those for non-Koreans. If you’re working in Korea as a foreign employee, you’re probably there on a contract basis, meaning that there’s no advancement implied in your position and you continue in the position only as long as your contract is renewed.

The important thing to remember here is that the experiences and connections you gain during your employment in a Korean company like this can be extremely valuable for you after moving on in your career, and especially when you’re ready to move to a non-Korean or multinational company that does business in Korea."

Visit Korea Business Central for more information on working in a Korean company, including the full video of this interview.

 

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Learn more about the KBC Professional Certification Program to be more successful in your career in Korea.


Q&A with Korea Herald About KBC and Starting or Running a Business in Korea as a Foreigner

The following is the bulk of the email interview on which much of today's article published in the Korea Herald is based.

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1. Based on your years of experience doing business here, how would you assess the level of support that the government (local or federal, your choice) provides for entrepreneurs, particularly for foreigners who set up their own businesses (ie non-MNCs) in Korea? Did you witness a noticeably more aggressive push by the government for aiding entrepreneurs, and when?

I'm not in a great position to comment too much on this because I just set up my Korean business through a local accounting firm here in Ansan. But my main market isn't Koreans and/or people living in Korea, so it would be tough to call myself a local entrepreneur. The Korean company for me is mainly a vehicle for processing funds that come from my US-based translation and consulting services. I'd probably have found the various government services more helpful though if I was actually setting up something new in Korea and for that, as far as I know, before the Seoul Global Business Support Center was established in 2010, there weren't any specific government efforts being made to help foreign entrepreneurs do business in Korea. So, before we started getting the discussion going and collecting resources on KBC in late 2009, I'm not sure there was anything organized and available at all. Today, there's no question that the Korean government (especially at the city level in Seoul and provincial level in Gyeonggi) is trying to encourage entrepreneurship by foreigners.

2. Before you started KBC (and of course, before the Seoul Global Business Centers were launched) what was the foreign entrepreneur community/environment like?

The chambers of commerce from various nations have been around for a long time and they've been important resources for the foreign community. Before say, 2009, I'm not aware of other organizations that existed other than those.

3. Did Korea have a foreigner-business-friendly environment when you first launched your own business (the translation service)?

I should clarify that I don't serve many Korean clients at all; my clients are mainly in North America, with a few more in Europe and elsewhere in Asia. I guess the reason is that my rates are somewhat higher than the standard Korean market rates. I think this is reflected in the level of English translation many Korean companies put on their marketing and other materials, but there doesn't seem to be a focus on high quality in translation. I think this partially reflects a Korean view that translation is a relatively low-level occupation, best suited for people who have lost their "real" job.
Here are a couple links that illustrate this phenomenon: 
As for whether Korea has a foreigner-business-friendly environment, I would say that Korea is generally a particularly difficult place for foreigners to do business. There are cultural reasons for this, but I think language issues also make it very difficult for outsiders to understand and network. Even if they can, the importance of long-term relationships amongs Koreans makes it tough for foreign businesspeople to penetrate business networks in Korea. Further, government regulations have often obstructed the efforts of foreign companies, as well.

It's not just foreign companies that have trouble doing business in Korea though; Korean SME who don't have strong business networks struggle too, and I would say there are a lot of similarities between the difficulties of foreigners and of Korean small business people. Korea's just not a great place for the small business-person of any country.

4. Is KBC itself now profitable (through premium services, etc.)?

Our flagship product is the KBC Professional Certification Program, which we've developed to help foreign business people overcome the challenges of business in Korea mentioned above, has gotten a great reception. We've had over a dozen graduates so far and the graduate class continues to grow. KBC has also been a way for me to serve the community with free services, at the same time that I present my professional language and consulting services to members and visitors from around the world. We are still working on developing additional services that will be valuable for non-Koreans wishing to do business in Korea.

5. You said once that you didn’t expect KBC to grow into what it is now. What were your initial intentions for it then? Why do you think it has picked up so successfully?

My initial idea was to build a community to organically support member networking efforts both online and offline. However, it became clear that the effort was too high and the ROI too low to run things as just a gather place for member to connect and so we've been working hard to provide tools and content that will help members solve their immediate needs for services and knowledge. I would say that the "community" aspect of KBC has been de-emphasized this year while we've focused on the "solutions and tools" aspect.

6. What services do KBC provide that government-provided support, ie the SGBC, do not?

The SGBSC is focused on small-scale foreign entrpreneurs in Seoul. On KBC, we're able to serve a much wider group, including those both in and outside Korea, as well as those looking for jobs and/or working in Korean companies. From the beginning, I have supported the work of the SGBSC and they offer services and have a funded budget that we don't have on KBC, or plan to add. So, there's a lot of opportunity to help fill in the gaps on KBC which aren't easily filled by others.
One issue with the government-provided support is that it's sometimes provided from a Korean-perspective, and from a government perspective. On KBC, we have a lot more freedom from an agenda set by a government official, and we're in a slightly better position to see things from a foreigner perspective rather than Korean perspective of what they think foreigners are interested in.

7. What are your plans for KBC’s expansion?

I would like to add more content, tools and services which solve the interests of our members, which are mainly broken up into three groups: foreigners looking for jobs in Korea, foreigners working in Korean companies both in Korea and overseas, and foreigners wanting to do business with Koreans. One vehicle for that is the Business Accelerator pages, which are are both working to improve now, and add to later.

8. It seems that KBC’s forum threads often turn into discussions that span several months or even years. Do you think this is a pro or a con in terms of content relevance?

I've made a deliberate effort to keep useful discussions around by linking to them in the business accelerator pages. That's because the discussions often have remarkably valuable information and I want that to be available indefinitely. Just letting a discussion die and disappear doesn't seem like a good way to treat the insights which members have taken the time and effort to share.

9. The idea has been discussed on KBC forums that despite its business-pushing initiatives, Korea still lacks an entrepreneur-friendly environment. Do you agree? Do you think this can be remedied somehow, and what are your suggestions?

Korean business culture and the Korean business environment are what they are. Korea's never going to be an easy place for non-Koreans to do business, and the Korean economy is structured around the large business groups. As I mentioned before, it's not just foreigners who are struggling to compete in the local market; Koreans without capital, connections or advanced technology struggle too. These are issues the Korean government is working to solve, but they won't be easy to get past.

10. In a nutshell, what can you suggest for Korea to become more business-friendly for foreigner/expat entrepreneurs living here?

I'm not sure why Korea needs to be friendlier for foreigners that want to open up a small service business. If they can make a go of it, great.. But Korea's not short of restaurants or English institutes. On the other hand, the government is already going to great efforts to attract MNCs having large amounts of capital and advanced technology. It's a competitive environment out there for that and Korea's not achieving the levels of success they'd like. Organizations like GAFIC are helping with this, particularly in helping foreign-invested companies get over red tape issues, and it would seem that further Korean efforts to reduce regulations and free up the market would be beneficial for foreign businesses in Korea.
Do you have any thoughts about favors/benefits/services that foreigners/expats shouldn’t expect from the government? (If the question is confusing, I’m thinking about availability of content in English—whether that is something foreigners should expect or if they should be expected to learn the local language—and want to know if you have any other ideas.)
I don't think foreign expats should expect the Korean government to provide services that aren't going to provide Korea with an ROI on the investment. Translating laws and regulations might be great, but if there aren't enough businesspeople out there to read and take advantage of them, then what benefit is it to Korea? Those companies with the resources to truly make an impact in Korea (versus those who wish they could set up a sole proprietorship without capital and get a free visa out of it) are already paying companies like me to translate the stuff they really need to know.

11. Do you think foreigner-friendly initiatives here are mostly geared toward Western businesspeople, versus those from Asia, Africa, etc.? If so, is that problematic?

I supposed foreigner-friendly initiatives are more geared toward Westerners. It's not just Korea though that does this; since the money's in the West, you'd expect Korean efforts to follow that cash. I'm not sure though that capable Asians and Africans are really at a disadvantage if they can meet the requirements set by the government for business.

I think there's an overestimation among the foreign community of just how much Koreans need them. If someone comes to Korea to do business, they need to be ready to make the sacrifices to achieve success. Korea's not the land of the easy money; it's a great place to do business if one loves the country, makes the effort, holds realistic goals and/or has something unique to offer Korea that can't be found elsewhere.

Korean Translation Tip: To My Esteemed Translation Client Reader

In reference to those holiday greetings I translated in a previous post, my translations of them sounded a bit weird, didn’t they? But hey, what do you want me to do? Change the meaning so they sound better to you?

Actually though, even though I said I translated them literally, I left some meaning out.

That’s right; I didn’t translate everything for you.

I left out all the parts that went overboard (from an English perspective) in expressing respect.

Consider this Korean sentence:

“2011년 한 해 동안 귀하가 폐사에 보내 주신 사랑에 감사드립니다.”


I translated it this way in in the blog post I referenced:

“Thank you for the love you have shared with our company during the 2011 year.” (Gotta love that "love" word there!)


But this is what it really says:

“Thank you, with respect, for the love which you, the esteemed, have shared in a respected way with our humble company during the 2011 year.”


Kind of weird, huh?

Korean Translation Tip - Korean really does include this much nuance expressing respect and humility, and especially in formal communications. However, it gets tedious (and runs the word count up unnecessarily) to translate it all so your Korean > English translator (including yours truly) generally leaves all this out. Just know it’s there but don’t think it needs to be included in the translations you deliver to your clients.

Oh, and by the way...

Thank you, with respect, for the love which you, the esteemed, have shared with humble ol’ me over the many years that humble ol’ I and my humble team have handled translation work for esteemed you...


Get a Job in Korea: "What do I need to watch out for during job interviews in Korea? Can you tell us maybe one or two deal-killers to avoid?"

The following was extracted from a recent interview with me about how to find a job in Korea. 

 

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"What do I need to watch out for during job interviews in Korea? Can you tell us maybe one or two deal-killers to avoid?"

"In a job interview, your interviewer is looking for reassurances that you will succeed in the Korean company. For that reason, you want to show the efforts you’ve made to learn Korean and get along in Korea and the commitment you’ve made to put down roots and stay through your contract.

Also, don’t get angry when the interviewer asks questions that might be unacceptable back home, such as your age or marital status. You should answer these and other questions forthrightly and cheerfully."

Visit Korea Business Central for more information on getting a job in Korea, including the full video of this interview.

 

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Learn more about the KBC Professional Certification Program to be more successful in your career in Korea.