Monthly Archive: July 2011

Test of Proficiency in Korean, Level 6

I took the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) last month and I passed at the top level, which is Level 6. This test is the leading Korean counterpart to the various standardized tests non-English speakers take to prove their ability in English, such as the TOEFL and TOEIC tests.

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 [April 24, 2013 – I finally downloaded and printed out the full certificate. Here it is.]


This Translation Isn’t Perfect!

A goal of any translation project should be "perfection". But squeezing that last 2% out of a delivery can be a big chore, to say the least. I asked my brother-in-law in the newspaper business what they do to ensure perfection there and here's what he replied:

Hey Steven,

Here’s how it happens on the newspaper end.  First off the story goes from the writer to their immediate editor who is looking for factual errors.  Once it clears that desk it goes to the copydesk where a copy editor edits it for grammar, spelling, inconsistencies and anything else that the city desk editor missed.  This is the most thorough edit the story will receive.  Once it is printed on the page the story and its supporting parts (headlines, cutlines, photos, pull quotes, etc…) are page proofed to make sure everything works together as a package and makes sense.  Then before it goes out the door there is something called a press check which is usually done by a copy editor who physically stands at the end of the press machine and takes a random sampling of newspapers coming off the press to check for any glaring errors.  Probably more information than you were looking for.  Hope it helps.

Take care,


In translation, we're going one step back, starting from a different language. But when was the last time a client was ready with a budget to cover even half of what a newspaper does? I always apologize for mistakes, but in the back of my mind, I also keep this little comparison between the translation and newspaper businesses in mind.

2014-04-07 – Special thanks to Katharine O'Moore-Klopf of KOK Edit for the following recent article on typos. – Zero tolerance? Yeah, that'll work.

I Was Quoted in the Korea JungAng Daily About Entrepreneurs in Korea

Here’s what I said in an article in the JungAng Daily on July 21, 2011 about foreign entrepreneurs in Korea:

“Most foreign entrepreneurs are setting up businesses that support the international community. There aren’t many who are doing business in Korean society and serving Korean consumers,” said Steven Bammel, founder and head administrator of Korea Business Central, an online community supporting expats doing business in Korea.

“Even companies investing in Korea through FDI are generally setting up operations to support the chaebol, so aside from the foreign community and chaebol, there don’t seem to be many foreign companies doing business directly with the majority of Korean consumers.”

Link to original article.

Download Expats blaze new trails in business in PDF format

This article is also featured on Korea Business Central with accompanying member discussion.

The Korean Immigration Service Published This Article About Me In Their Quarterly Magazine, Gongjon

“Gongjon” means “to be together” and the Korean government is working hard to help Koreans understand about the many people from other countries who live together with Koreans in Korea. Gongjon focuses on publishing articles about non-ethnic Koreans living in Korea and they interviewed me for a recent article.

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Download Gongzone201106

About Koreans and Their Attitudes Toward Translators

An associate asked me about studying to be a Korean translator recently. He did so in the context of trying to get a job in Korea. Unfortunately, while translation is a noble profession and one that pays well and for which there's a demand for good talent, it is not a job to take if you want to improve your reputation in Korea or get a high-paying job here.

This is how I replied to my associate's question:

"Korean professionals don't respect translators; it's as simple as that. I've sensed it for years from many people, but got a rude wake-up call from my Korean accountant recently. He's a fellow student at Hanyang and we'd had classes together. I went for tax advice to him about a year and a half ago and a couple months ago I went back to him to register my business in Korea.

When I mentioned how much I make, he just about fell out of his seat and responded, "Oh, I thought translation was just what unemployed people do!"… and it turns out that the advice he gave me a year and a half ago was wrong… because he had taken me so lightly knowing I was a translator, he hadn't bothered to properly consider my situation. Just figured that if I said I was a translator, I surely wasn't making enough to worry about Korean taxes and blew me off…

So, that pretty much sums up what a translation degree will do for you in the Korean business world. In the mind of Koreans, it's two steps up from English teacher… This, incidentally, is why I went back to school in Korea… so I could stop telling Koreans I'm a translator and start talking to them about serious subjects. 🙂

Sorry to sound so negative… it's just that I've been through it myself already… And by the way, Americans DO respect translators…


I'm told that one cultural factor in this matter is that language professionals were not held in particularly high esteem during the years of the the Chosun Dynasty either and that this thinking continues even until today. I don't really know how much of an effect such attitudes from 100+ years ago would have today, but it's at least in accord with what I experience.

“Korea Business Advisor”, Seoul Magazine – Supplement to the Article “Business Network Building in Korea”

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My latest column for Seoul Magazine discussed the value of network building in Korea and some tips on how to leverage business cards for success in Korea. To go deeper into this topic, visit the links below:

** CLICK HERE to read the full article on Korea Business Central.

Closing Greetings for Korean Emails

DongI've got a colleague here in Korea, Dong-Hyuk Kim (pictured at right), who always closes his emails with the most creative and charming expressions. I'm collecting some of them here for safekeeping:

달콤한 휴식을 즐기는행복한 저녁 보내세요.

가을의 정취와 더불어즐거운 하루 보내세요.

맑고 향기로운 하루 보내세요.

상쾌한 하루 보내세요.

좋은 하루 보내세요.

즐거운 주말 보내세요.

편안한 시간 보내세요.

빗소리를 벗삼아 즐거운 하루 보내세요.

유쾌한 주말 보내세요.

행복한 주말 보내세요.

유쾌한 오후 보내세요.

참, 좋은 하루 보내세요.

편안한 저녁 보내세요.

활기찬 오후 보내세요.

빗소리를 들으면서 아련한 옛 추억과 함께 낭만을 즐기는 참, 좋은 하루 보내세요.

시원한 하루 보내세요.

편안한 밤 보내세요.

힘찬 새해 시작하세요.

즐거운 저녁 보내세요.

즐거운 휴일 보내세요.

기쁨이 넘치는 활기찬 하루 보내세요.

기분 좋은 주말 보내세요.

웃음이 빵빵 터지는 유쾌한 주말 보내세요.

점심, 맛있게 드시구요 힘찬 오후 보내세요.

환절기에 감기 조심하시구요, 즐거운 한 주일 보내세요.

봄의 기운과 더불어 즐거운 하루 보내세요.

날마다 활기찬 하루 보내세요.

좋은 일이 많이 생기는 즐거운 한 주일 보내세요.

즐거운 주말 맞이하세요.

점심, 맛있게 드시구요, 힘찬 오후 보내세요.

추위를 이겨내는 따뜻한 하루 보내세요.

따뜻하고 포근한 하루 보내세요.

올해의 마지막 주말, 뜻깊고 재미있게 보내세요.

뜻깊은 날이 맞이하여 훈훈하고 즐거운 시간 보내시기 바랍니다.

따뜻한 커피 맛도 즐겨보는 여유로운 하루 보내세요.

힘이 솟는 기운찬 하루 보내세요.