Monthly Archive: December 2009

About Nojeok Hill and My Connection to It

Nojeok (pronounced: “No-juck”) Hill is located in Ansan, Korea:

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Note: All the graphics on this page can be enlarged by clicking on them. 

There’s not a whole lot about Nojeok Hill that’s particularly remarkable. But I’ve had a connection with it for 15+ years since I first moved to Ansan to teach English back on December 28, 2003. Though Nojeok is pretty short (I can climb it in less than 10 minutes), the top still gives me a view of most of the places I’ve lived, worked and studied during my time in Korea:

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Here’s a map of Ansan showing another perspective of the location of Nojeok Hill in relation to important places for me in the area:

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Because of Nojeok Hill’s proximity to wherever I’ve lived in Korea, and because it’s been developed into a very nice park, I’ve been a frequent visitor over the years. I can still remember back in 1997 when they were first putting down the walking trail which circles the hill, we thought it was a road and so Myunghee and I drove clear around it one afternoon. At the time, nobody else was on the trail; today it enjoys a steady and daily stream of people.

Though Nojeok Hill is notable for its ordinariness, its view of Ansan means that my vantage point from the summit gives me a window into understanding and explaining a good bit of modern Korean history.

A couple weblog posts of note that show the area around Nojeok Hill:

I’ve also got here a 13-minute video showing the walk from my office to home (shown in the maps above). This isn’t quite the Nojeok Hill area, but it connects with “A Drive Around” video above at the final intersection before reaching our apartment complex.

Finally, for an overview and birds-eye photos of Seongpo-Dong, the neighborhood in which Nojeok Hill Park is located, as well as where we live, click here.

New Podcast Series to Interview Opinion-Leaders and Newsmakers in Korean Business

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Ansan, South Korea – December 11, 2009 – Korea Business Central (, a new online community focused on business in Korea and which is sponsored by Korean Consulting & Translation Service, Inc. (, announces an agreement with Tucker Media Group, Inc. ( of Palm Springs, California to produce a series of podcasts related to business in Korea for its membership.

These interviews with opinion-leaders and newsmakers in Korean business will be released through the Korea Business Central website during December 2009 and January 2010.

Tom Tucker, of Tucker Media Group, Inc., is a veteran broadcast journalist who specializes in getting and managing media coverage. His company shows clients how to become their own media outlets by using the tools of social media marketing, including blogs, podcasting, Twitter and various social networks.

Steven S. Bammel, administrator at Korea Business Central, has commissioned these short interviews by Tucker Media Group with business personalities inside and outside Korea to focus on helping members of the Korea Business Central community do better business in Korea and with Koreans everywhere.

For more information, contact Steven through the Korea Business Central or Korean Consulting & Translation Service, Inc. sites.


Media contact in South Korea:

Steven S. Bammel

(972) 255-4808


Media  contact in the United States:

Thomas C. Tucker

(760) 578-4858


Korean<>English Dictionary from Google

I generally go to Yahoo! Korea’s Korean<>English dictionary for definitions when translating. It’s pretty good and has several subject-matter specialties. Korean portal sites and also have about the same offering but I’ve stuck with Yahoo! simply because the interface is more familiar to me. It probably doesn’t matter though because I think all three are based on the same database.

Anyway, Google’s just released their own competing service at Google Dictionary, which includes Korean<>English and a whole lot of other languages too. In typical Google fashion, the display pages are pretty austere, but what does it matter if the information is good?


Time will tell whether I end up switching to Google from Yahoo, but based on my past history, it seems that this is yet another service for which I’ll be migrating over to Google.

One more bit of interesting news. Google just integrated translation into their Web search results too. Here’s the intro post from Google’s weblog:

“Long Live Korea!” – The Legend of Hong Soo-hwan’s Comeback Win

I discussed and translated an article from the Jungang Daily newspaper last week in this post of Nojeok Hill: My View from the Top. Here is the (almost) full Korean source followed by the translation. It was nice to work on a translation project where I was the client since it gave me the freedom to translate a little less literally than usual. 

Note that the following Korean text taken from the Jungang Daily website is not complete and I wasn't able to find my printed copy again. So the English translation does contain a paragraph or so of content not in the Korean here.

“대한국민 만세”… 홍수환의 4전5기 챔피언 신화

1977년 11월 27일 파나마에서 홍수환 선수가 신설 체급인 주니어 페더급 챔피언에 올랐다. 74년 남아프리카공화국에서 첫 번째 챔피언에 올랐을 때 “엄마 나 챔피언 먹었어”, 그리고 “그래 내 아들아, 대한국민 만세다”라는 대화로 새로운 유행을 창조했던 홍수환이 파나마에서 또 드라마를 만들어냈던 것이다. 2회에 네 차례나 다운됐던 홍수환은 3회가 시작되자마자 역전 KO승을 이끌어냈다.

한국 근현대사에서 수많은 스포츠 사건이 있었음에도 77년 홍수환의 승리가 머릿속에 뚜렷하게 각인돼 있는 이유는 무엇일까? 무엇보다도 ‘역전’이라는 단어가 우리에게 주는 매력 때문일 것이다. 20세기에 들어서자마자 나라를 잃었고, 식민지에서 해방되자마자 분단과 전쟁을 겪었던 우리 민족에게 ‘역전’보다도 더 뚜렷한 목표는 없었다. 1936년 손기정, 76년 양정모의 올림픽 금메달이 있었지만, 70년대 레슬링의 김일, 권투의 홍수환, 그리고 야구의 군산상고에 환호했던 것은 바로 역전의 드라마 때문이었다. 이들은 우리 민족뿐만 아니라 우리 스스로를 대신해 역전 드라마를 써 주었던 것이다. 홍수환의 드라마는 77년 수출 100억 달러, 1인당 국민소득 1000달러, 그리고 쌀 자급을 통한 쌀 막걸리의 재등장과 점철되었다.

또 다른 이유는 암울한 시대 상황 속에서 피어난 환희의 순간이었다는 점이다. 77년은 유신의 어두움이 사회를 짓누르고 있었던 시기였다. 75년 베트남 패망뿐만 아니라 74년의 오일쇼크에 따른 경제적 어려움으로 짙은 그림자가 드리워져 있었다. 홍수환의 승리 한 달여 전부터 본격화된 학생시위로 인해 긴급조치 9호 이후 처음으로 20여 일간의 휴교가 있었지만, 언제쯤 봄이 올 것인지 누구도 예측할 수 없었던 시대였다. 여기에 더하여 동년 11월 11일에 있었던 이리역 다이너마이트 폭발 사건은 사회를 더 음울하게 했다. 이러한 어둠 속에서 터진 홍수환의 승리는 잠시나마 전 국민의 마음을 환하게 해 주었다.

스포츠는 이렇게 사회적으로 다양한 효과를 만들어 내며, 특히 국가대항전을 통해 국민을 통합하는 수단으로 작동했다. 대부분의 독재자가 스포츠 육성을 강조했던 것도 모두 이 때문이었다. 여기에 더하여 스포츠는 갈수록 순수성과 다양성을 잃고 상업화되고 있으며, 이제는 잔인함까지 더해가고 있다. 비록 그것이 ‘국가’를 위해 이용됐다고 하더라도 ‘그때 지금’의 아름다운 스포츠 정신이 그리워진다.

"Long Live Korea!" – The Legend of Hong Soo-hwan's Comeback Win

In Panama on November 27, 1977, Hong Soo-hwan was crowned champion in the newly established junior featherweight division. When he first won a championship in 1974 in South Africa, Hong had called his mother to tell her about it and is reported to have said, "Mom, I beat the champion", to which his mother replied, "Yes, my son. Long live Korea!". In fact, this short conversion even entered the Korean vernacular of the time. Hong's fight in Panama also resulted in a well-known story. In the second round of that fight, he was knocked down four times but came out right at the beginning of the third round to win with a dramatic KO.

Even though many events have transpired throughout the modern history of Korean sports, Hong Soo-hwan's win in 1977 stands out as one of the most memorable. What could be the reason for that? More than anything, the answer to this question is found in the fact that we Koreans are drawn to the idea of a come-from-behind win. Having lost our country's independence to the Japanese at the very beginning of the 20th century, Korea then emerged from the Japanese colonial period only to be split in two and then suffer through the Korean War. During those long years, could we have wanted anything more ardently than a "come from behind win"?

Of course, athletes such as Sohn Gi-jeong and Yang Jeong-mo earned gold medals in the Olympics in 1936 and 1976, respectively. But it is the comeback wins in wrestling by Kim Il, in boxing by Hong Soo-hwan and in baseball by the Kunsan Commercial High School in the 1970s that Koreans remember with the most pride. These winners gave victories not just to the nation as a whole, but also to each of us individually. Hong Soo-hwan's win took place alongside the national achievements in 1977 of reaching $100 million in exports and per capita income of $1,000, and coincided with the re-emergence of "makkoli" made with natively grown rice.

Another reason Hong Hwan-soo's win stands out so clearly today is that it represented a happy moment in what was otherwise a very difficult time in the country. In 1977, the darkness of the Yushin Constitution was pressing down on society. Furthermore, not only had Korea been on the losing side in the Vietnam War but the oil shock of 1974 caused enduring economic shadows. As a result of the severe emergency measures taken by the government in response to the outbreak of student demonstrations about a month before, there was a 20-day suspension of university classes and no one at the time could predict when things would get better. In addition, the fresh memory of the Iri Station dynamite explosion incident that occurred on November 11 of the same year led to a generally gloomy feeling throughout Korean society. It was within this context that the victory of Hong Soo-hwan provided such an inspiration to the entire nation.

Sports generate various effects like this in society. In particular, they serve as a means of bringing a nation together through the shared experience of sporting events that take place at the national level. This is one reason most autocrats have pressed for the development of national sports programs. But in addition, the more sporting develops, the more the genuineness and variety are lost as commercialization creeps in. Here, we might even mention the cruelty that sports often involves. Thus, even if we say that such achievements are sought for the sake of the "country", we still miss the naive beauty of the sports of that bygone era.

A Very Helpful Explanation about Korean Grammar from Linguist Yongjoon Cho

I just posted an announcement on my Nojeok Hill blog regarding a survey of learners of Korean. Having completed the survey myself, I emailed the author, Yongjoon Cho, with a Korean grammatical question that’s been on my mind for awhile.

My message to Mr. Cho:

Hi Yongjoon,

I’ve got a question that I’ve never been able to get a proper answer to. Since it’s related to the grammar in your survey, I was thinking I’d run it by you.

There’s a Korean TV program called “그것이 알고 싶다”. Why is it “그것”? Everything that I know about Korean says it should be “그것”. Perhaps both are OK and there’s a nuance difference? But the “그것” just seems wrong to me.

I’d be really grateful if you could explain it for me.



Here is the excellent reply I got back:

Hi Steven,

The constructions are called “desiderative constructions” in Korean.

In the constructions, the object of an embedded predicate can also be the subject of the matrix clause. It is not the same, but in English apparently similar constructions exist:

(1) a. It is easy to please John.

     b. John is easy to please.

Originally “John” is the object of the embedded predicate “please”, but it can appear in the position of the matrix clause as in (1b).


(2) a. 철수를 만나기 쉽다.

     b. 철수가 만나기 쉽다.

철수, the object of the embedded predicate 만나다, can be the matrix subject, as in (2b).


(3) a. 나는 그것을 알고 싶다.

     b. 나는 그것이 알고 싶다.

the object in the desiderative constructions, as in (3), can have the object marker (3a) as well as the subject marker (3b).

So the two alternatives, as in (3), are both grammatical in Korean. There is no semantic difference between those two options. If there is any slight difference in nuance, it might be related to the “focused reading” on 그것이, rather than 그것을.

The predicate of the opposite meaning, 싫다, also has the same structure, as in (4):

(4) a. 나는 영희를 만나기 싫다.

    b. 나는 영희가 만나기 싫다.

I hope this is a helpful answer to your question. 

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Thank you.



Warning About the SDL Trados PSMA (Premium Software Maintenance Agreement)

OPENING NOTE: The following post is a little long-winded. To get the key warning, simply scroll down to the red text below.

Several years ago, I signed a premium software maintenance agreement (PSMA) with SDL so that I would always have the latest version of Trados for the licenses I carry for my team and to get helpful and prompt answers to my questions about using the software. 

Here is the how SDL described the value of the PSMA in an email to me this year.

Software Maintenance agreement entitles you to the following benefits:

  1. Free upgrades to the latest version of our
  2. Access to our support infrastructure for
    immediate response to your technical enquires through “My Account>My
    Support” area on our website.
  3. Access to software releases before the rest of
    the market.
  4. Peace of mind of new product releases without
    administrative hassle.

I would
like to highlight the fact that we have considerably improved
our services over the years. You are able to follow
an support escalation path if in any way you are unhappy with the
service you receive. Our services are accessible in local languages
both via email and on the telephone. In addition we offer a
comprehensive Knowledgebase that is a result of more than 10 years
experience in the industry. 

The product
that you received within your PSMA this year, Studio 2009
is unique and revolutionary on the market and has amazing new features such as
real time preview, auto suggest, new PDF filter and many more. 

However, I have felt that the value I’m getting from the PSMA is not commensurate with the price for the following reasons.

  1. Perhaps this is because we work in Korean which doesn’t get the attention other languages get, but it seems that SDL keeps releasing new versions of Trados before properly fixing the bugs in the previous versions and the new versions have so many problems that we aren’t able to use them without feeling we are beta testers. In fact, in the past when I really tried to figure things out deeply in the software, I came across multiple bugs in relation to handling Korean which were apparently unknown to SDL. Unbelievably, MultiTerm has never been fixed to work with Korean properly! Now that SDL has come our with yet another version this year, not only is there the prospect of new problems, but the entire interface has been redesigned and so far, I’m not sensing market pressure to upgrade and my translation teams are hostile to the very idea of changing, anyway. Thus, the constant software upgrades that the PSMA provides are not worth all that much to me. In fact, I often feel they are upgrading simply to push sales and not in ways that actually improve very much for the customer.
  2. The quality of answers I get from SDL tech support has been horrible and they are not prompt. Perhaps SDL tech support is just so used to dumb questions from others that they don’t bother to carefully read my messages, but the first answer I get back seldom answers my question (or even addresses the question correctly). And even after I start getting proper answers, they are often incomplete and require days of back and forth. It means that SDL tech support provided by the PSMA is not useful for working on actual jobs; I generally have to just solve things myself… and besides, by now, we’ve pretty much figured it all out anyway with the current version.
  3. The cost of the PSMA took a huge jump last year! It went up by about 50%… 

So, taking these factors into account, I decided this year to discontinue my PSMA and to just upgrade in the future when it becomes necessary. And so when SDL sent me the PSMA invoice, I replied that I didn’t want to renew… 

HOWEVER, these are the exact words of the answer I got back from SDL:

“For you to terminate we need notice
at least 60 days before the expiry date and I am not aware that we received a
termination request from you. You may terminate for next

Well… gee. I’d forgotten about that provision in the contract (honestly, I never noticed it). So sorry… I ponied up another $1,500 this year to SDL as a result.

But I’ve marked my calendar for next year to make sure I don’t miss the 60-day period. I also noted that I received SDLs email notification of upcoming invoicing just 65 days before the contract period ending.

Thus, if you have an SDL PSMA and feel that you are spending too much money for too little value, I encourage you to check the ending date of your PSMA and make sure you send your termination request in time. If you receive an email from SDL that they are planning to invoice you for your next PSMA contract and if they send it out on the same schedule as they sent mine, keep in mind that you have just a few days to take action before it’ll be too late.

To be fair and to share the story in full, I should mention that I put up a huge stink after getting that reply from SDL reminding me of my contractual requirements. I was quite unpleasant and they did relent after I escalated the matter. I still renewed though.

Chang W. Kim’s Presentation at TEDxSeoul Got Me Thinking

[LAST MINUTE NOTE: I wrote this article a couple days ago and scheduled to post it today. Just this morning, the Korean edition of the Jungang Daily (interestingly, this one doesn't seem to have been translated to the English edition) published an article that makes nearly the same point as I do below. Here is the link to the Korean article: 불법복제 미-일 2배, IT경쟁력 8단계 추락, 한국은 SW 후진국. I may expand on it later in a follow-up post.]

Two events in the past week have conspired to sharpen my perspective on an issue of Korean business that's been on my mind for awhile. It is the question of why Korea seems somewhat isolated from the mainstream of global online trends even though the country was first out of the block for high-speed and wireless Internet a decade ago and development of the Korean IT industry is a top national priority.

A recent article in the Jungang Ilbo (Nov. 14, 2009 – 세계적 온라인 서비스, 한국선 왜 고전하나) explains how US-based online services such as Second Life, MySpace, Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter are all finding their results in the Korean market disappointing. In my opinion, this is not because the Korean competition is superior. Also, the Korean media is all abuzz about the vast sums being invested by the government into the Korean IT industry. Here is one of many articles about this: 차-조선-건설-로봇에 IT를 입힌다.

Event #1: An Insight Worth Following Up On

Screenshot of The BrainTo bring my point into focus, I'd like to share about a conversation I had with a fellow graduate student at Hanyang University. He had seen me using a new software program  (The Brain – on my computer and grasped immediately that the powerful linking features could be useful for organizing his thoughts and materials for a doctoral dissertation that he'll be starting on soon. I had given him the link a week before and he came to class this week to tell me that he'd played around with it and really liked the program… But one thing bothered him… The trial period only lasts for 30 days and he wanted to know if he really had to actually purchase the software after that. "Well, sure, of course", was my reply… 

After class he came up to me and explained that my reply got him to thinking about a curious difference between Korean and American perspectives. Whereas I only thought it natural to pay for a program I find valuable, he was at first unable to understand how a program couldn't be free. It wasn't that he was trying to be sneaky; it just didn't occur to him that paying was part of the deal.

This thinking comes from an environment where all the major software programs (and music and movies, too) circulate online in ways that the licensing can be circumvented. Sure, we have that in the US, but it's not the mainstream anymore like it is in Korea (and much of the world). 

I should point out that my associate is a Korean professional, about my age, and my equal or superior in many ways. I was impressed with his desire to confront this difference honestly and respect him for doing so.

Event #2: Wondering About the Problems

TEDxSeoul_logo[1][1][1]Chang W. Kim is an evangelist of web trends in Asia through his blog Web 2.0 Asia. As a full-time job, he works at Google's Seoul office, helping Korea's advanced blogging service technologies and features find worldwide users through Google's global reach. Previously he worked with Samsung's mobile division and TNC, a blogging service startup that he headed jointly, and which was purchased by Google.

Changwon_kimChang shared on Saturday at TEDxSeoul about how the "golden age" for online services in Korea was 1997-2001 and about how innovative services were often introduced and gained a following in Korea long before they reached the US market. For example, was a forerunner of Skype and Koreans were putting up personal pages on Cyworld while Facebook and MySpace were still in the concept stage. But each of these Korean services failed to grow successfully in the global market.

(As an additional note here, Yeonho Oh, the founder of which brought personal news publishing to the masses in Korea back in 2000 long before blogging took off, was another speaker at TEDxSeoul. His presentation reflected on the lack of sustainable development achieved for the site after its initial explosion onto the scene.)

My Two-Cents

Chang W. Kim gave a number of reasons why the Korean online service environment has lost its excitement and several suggestions for improvement and reasons for hope. For example, he pointed out that government regulations require a ridiculous degree of security for online transactions. I can personally vouch for this fact, as we have often given up purchasing something online when we couldn't figure out how to get through the security steps. This has prevented us from making online purchasing a way of life here in Korea like we do with Amazon back in the US. 

Kim also pointed to a number of young entrepreneurs who are pioneering new online concepts. And the Korean government is never far behind in trying to promote good ideas (or to get in the way). 

But I think he may have left out one important point… In a market where intellectual property in software is not respected within the mainstream, new ideas (though they may get off the ground thanks to Korean creativity and hard work) often get snuffed out early because the path to market is too long and the ultimate payoff uncertain. In other words, if the consumer market is used to getting stuff (really good stuff, sometimes!) for free, why would they start paying early on for a new service that is still rough around the edges? And without that early revenue stream, how can new services invest and develop?

I might point out that this applies not just to Korea. But as President Lee Myeong-bak explained so well in his two-hour TV discussion last Friday evening, even though Korea has become an advanced country in many areas, there are still other ways in which Korea needs to improve (Don't we all!?). He didn't mention this area specifically (his comments came in the context of Korean foreign aid) but the point remains valid for online businesses, too.

Sure, the US market is bigger and that makes for an easier playing field for start-ups in the US, but the Korean market shouldn't be small, and it got a big head start thanks to the spread of high-speed Internet long before other countries. Korean innovations would surely get a boost from a populace ready to pay for good ideas at an easily stage.

Interestingly, Korean gaming companies, such as NCsoft are world beaters. This surely has a lot to do with the fact that they found a way to protect their intellectual property and monetize traffic early. 

The next stage of Korean online development, in my view, will require changes in this area if Korea is become an online leader again.