The Korean Wave, also known as Hallyu, has reached the shores of Singapore since the late 1990s. We have seen a surge in the popularity of entertainment and culture fromSouth Korea, including Korean pop music, television drama serials and movies, not forgetting Korean food and language.
In order to get closer to their Korean idols, there is an increasing demand for courses in the Korean language by fans of K-pop and all things Korean. Riding on this Korean wave, language schools in Singapore began offering such courses. A quick search online turned up several places in Singapore where you can obtain instruction in the Korean language. Even a local university and local community centres are grabbing a piece of the “Korean language pie”.
For others who are not linguistically inclined or do not have the time and energy to pick up the Korean language, there are always service providers in Singapore which can translate Korean into English or into other languages of your choice. Be it the hit pop song “Nobody” by South Korean girl group Wonder Girls, or Korean dramas and movies like “Winter Sonata” starring Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo, and action thriller “The Man from Nowhere” which earned its star Won Bin several acting awards, services to translate Korean into a language of your choice are aplenty.
Whilst you can select from the abundant options available, it is not easy to find someone who can properly translate Korean. Translation is not simply a word-for-word conversion of one language into another. There is often the misconception held by non-practitioners that knowledge of the source language (i.e. Korean in this case) and the target language (i.e. the language that you wish to translate into) gives one the licence to perform translation. Or that since one can just use free machine translation software available online, why bother to spend money to obtain a translation? These are absolutely untrue, and particularly so for a language pair like Korean and English which are as different as chalk and cheese.
Korean and English have totally irrelevant sentence structures, and add that to the complex syntax, nuanced language and context cannot be accurately translated by simply carrying out a word-for word translation or using a machine translation tool.
To translate Korean into another language or vice versa, other than a proficient knowledge of both languages, a translator would also need to be in tune with the culture and traditions of both languages. For example, how do you describe “kimchi” to someone who is unfamiliar with this Korean dish of spicy pickled cabbage? Furthermore, it would help for the translator to be up-to-date with both the source and target languages so as use the best possible words in their translations.
It is thus crucial to find a trustworthy and reliable translator or translation company which can translate Korean into the language you desire, especially so if the translation involves an important business contract or critical documents. After all, we do not want “kimchi” to be mistaken for “sauerkraut”.