Category: Bragging Rights

Certificate of Translation Competence, Grade I

In April I posted my Certificate of Translation Competence, Grade II. I went back for the Grade I test last month and just got notification online that I passed. Until I receive the official certificate by mail, this screenshot from the Korean Society of Translators will have to suffice as evidence (my name is the one shown with the red box near the top). Only two people passed at the top level of Grade I this time around, and I'm not aware of any other non-heritage translators who have passed at this level before.

* September 19, 2011 – I just picked up my certificate. It can be viewed here.

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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.]


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

Certificate of Translation Competence, Grade II

I've got to admit, it's pretty irritating that they put "Semi-professional Level" in English on the certificate. It doesn't say anything like this on the Korean side and it has no correspondence with anything mentioned on the Society website. It was merely the second of three levels offered for the test. They didn't even offer a level three test for Korean > English, nor do they allow Korean > English translators to choose the topic area. These options only exist for English > Korean linguists. Anyway, I hope to have a level one (that's the highest, apparently) certificate soon!

Sept. 19, 2011 Update – Click here for my Certificate of Translation Competence, Grade I.


“I’m Just Happy to Help Anywhere I Can” – Article About Me In the Chosun Ilbo Newspaper Today

The following short article about me appeared in the Chosun Ilbo today:

[수도권I] [경기도 이 사람] "내 도움 필요한 곳이면 어디든 OK"

입력 : 2011.03.10 23:01

[경기도 이 사람] 외국인투자유치 자문관 스티븐 밤멜
한국은 우리가족의 나라… 안산, 특히 살기좋은 곳

"잘 다니는 산이 있고, 길 안 막히고, 집값은 서울보다 싸고, 서해안 고속도로가 바로 옆에 있어서 지방여행 갈 수 있고, 서울 오가기도 편하고…."

경기도 안산시 상록구 성포동에 가면 "경기도와 안산은 나의 한국 고향"이라고 말하는 푸른 눈의 외국인이 있다. 지난 1993년 처음으로 한국 땅을 밟고 안산시에 살고있는 스티븐 밤멜(41·미국)씨다. 경기도와 안산시가 어떤 이유로 살기 좋으냐고 묻자, 대답이 끊이지 않는다. 밤멜씨는 "안산 지리를 잘 알아서 나중에 택시기사도 할 수 있을 것 같다"며 웃었다.


▲ 스티븐 밤멜씨는“매주 주말이면 한국 곳곳에 여행 가는 것을 즐긴다”고 말했다. 사진은 밤멜씨가 부인, 자녀들과 작년 10월 서울 상암동 억새축제를 찾았을 때의 모습.

밤멜씨는 경기도와 안산시에 대한 애정이 크다. 안산시에서 산 지는 18년째가 됐고, 작년 2월 경기도 외국인투자유치 자문관, 같은 해 4월 경기도 외투기업협의회 자문위원으로 위촉돼 활동 중이다. 2008년 우연한 자리에서 김문수 경기도지사를 만난 게 인연이 됐다고 한다. 한국어와 영어 통·번역 사업을 하고 있어 활동이 많은 편은 아니지만 지난달 25일 김 지사의 트위터에 "앞으로 경기도를 위해서 열심히 노력하겠습니다!"라고 글을 남길 만큼 경기도에 대한 열정이 웬만한 도민 못지않다. 밤멜씨는 "지난 2월에는 안산에 있는 한양대학교에서 석사학위(경영전략)도 땄다"고 했다.

미국에서 대학을 졸업하고 '색다른 삶'을 꿈꾸던 밤멜씨는 1993년 한국에 들어와 안산에서 영어학원강사로 일했다. 1994년 무역회사(LG상사)로 옮겨 5년 반 동안 일했는데 이 과정에서 지금의 한국인 아내 유명희씨를 만나 1996년에 결혼, 딸 유트레저(12·영문이름 Treasure Bammel)와 아들 유카버리(11·영문이름 Cauvery Bammel)를 낳아 함께 살고 있다. 자녀들의 한국 성(姓)은 부인 유씨의 성을 땄고, 이름은 영어이름으로 지었다. 자녀들이 어릴 때는 미국과 한국을 오가며 생활하기도 했지만, 3년 전부터 딸과 아들을 외국인학교가 아닌 한국 초등학교에 다니게 하면서 키우는 중이다. 밤멜씨는 "딸이 처음 한국에 와서는 한국어가 너무 느려 고생을 했지만 지금은 잘 지낸다"며 웃었다.

밤멜씨는 회원이 1200명가량인 웹사이트도 운영하며 한국에서의 삶의 '폭'을 넓히고 있다. 주로 한국에서 일하는 외국인들이 모여 정보와 이야기를 나누고 모임도 갖는다고 한다. 밤멜씨는 "한국에 와서 좋은 사람들을 만나 도움을 많이 받으며 즐겁게 살고 있다"며 "경기도 외투기업협의회 자문위원이 된 이후 많은 활동을 하지는 못했지만, 언제든지 부탁이 들어오면 도와드리고 싶다"고 말했다.

Link to original article posting.

I Was Quoted in The Korea Times about Investors in Korea

Here's an article from the December 20, 2010 issue of the Korea Times:

Chinese investor pulls out due to tension

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia 

Some prospective foreign investors are increasingly becoming concerned about the escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula, with one Chinese investor already postponing plans to invest in a major property development project in Incheon.

The brouhaha over South Korean military’s live-fire artillery exercise Monday further increased the tension between the two Koreas. Last month North Korea opened fire on Yeonpyeong Island, killing four people ― two South Korean marines and two civilians. 

Joseph Chiang, president of Lippo Incheon Development, said the situation between South and North Korea has affected the company’s marketing efforts for Midan City, a leisure and tourism-oriented project on Yeongjong Island. 

“ (The situation) does affect our marketing efforts. One large investor in China made up their mind to invest, but due to this situation, they had to postpone action till further developments,’’ Chiang told The Korea Times. 

Several Chinese investors had earlier expressed interest in investing in Midan City, which is part of the Incheon Free Economic Zone. The project is envisioned as an “all-in-one-city’’ with shopping malls, resort hotels, medical facilities, a golf village and entertainment facilities.

It seems the extensive international news coverage on North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last month has made a dent in South Korea’s image.

Steven S. Bammel, president of Korea Consulting & Translation Service, said the situation between the two Koreas is certainly affecting the nerves of foreign investors in South Korea. 

“There’s no doubt that foreign investors looking at Korea hesitate when they see the situation. With so many other less risky but attractive investment destinations elsewhere in East Asia, Korea loses out. For example, after the Cheonan (navy boat sinking) incident in the spring, I had a client cancel a trip to Korea and other clients have asked me nervously what’s going on,’’ Bammel told The Korea Times. 

However, for many expatriate businessmen already living in Seoul, the current tension on the Korean Peninsula may not make much of an impact in their daily lives and future business plans. 

Bammel, who also runs the website (KBC), said there has been surprisingly little concern shown by KBC members in the North Korean situation. 

“I’d say the average member is thinking more about day-to-day business and life than about war; this mirrors the views in Korean society at large. I’ve been posting to a discussion on the 60th anniversary of the Korean War for several months now but it gets far fewer comments than a discussion about the challenges of foreigners working in Korean companies,’’ Bammel said. 

A European businessman, who declined to be identified, admitted that his business partners from abroad have called to check on the current situation. “I assured him it was business as usual, but it’s difficult to say what North Korea will do,’’ the businessman said.

The timing of South Korea’s live-fire artillery exercise coincides with the start of the annual Christmas holidays for many expatriates in Seoul. This means foreign officials at the various chambers of commerce have left or are planning to leave for abroad this week. The Korea Times tried to contact officials at the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea and Australian Chamber of Commerce in Korea, but was told that they were out of the country.

Link to original article.


The Final Version of My Masters Thesis

I finally finished the final version of my masters thesis. The topic is a little academic, but I’m posting it here for the record. Not that I expect a lot of general interest in this, but feel free to download the PDF and share your thoughts. Note that the thesis is written in Korean and there is no English version other than the Abstract on the second-to-last page.

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Download 2010 Masters Thesis Draft, FINAL

Introduction of ESL Teacher to Reputable Institute Chain That is Growing FAST! (Korea)

I was invited to the Gunpo Global Education Center of PowerStudy last week to serve as an English contest judge in my capacity as a GyeongGi Province Foreign Direct Investment Advisor. It was the first time I’ve ever done something quite like that and listening to 38 kids give speeches did take a long time. Still, it was nice to support the event and to visit the beautiful campus there in Sanbon right next to Suri Mountain, which is only about 20 minutes from our place in Ansan.

CIMG1065Anyway, the PowerStudy chain of institutes is growing extremely rapidly, based on a business model that uses the existing infrastructure provided by non-profit organizations to provide affordable English training to area children. With 2,500 students at the Gunpo Center alone, they are aiming for tens of thousands of students across Korea within the next two years.

As part of this growth, PowerStudy is hiring lots of foreign teachers and when I was contacted by an American in Korea who’s been having trouble finding a proper job, I sent him to my contact at Gunpo. Thanks to my introduction, my American associate got a prompt reply and is working through the application process.

(Photo: Sokcho city, taken from the overlooking hills on the way to Sorak Mountain a few days ago.)