The Ultimate Korean Translation Guide [2020]

by Richard Walker
Last updated on May 10, 2020

This guide covers all you need to know about Korean translation.

It was written with 10 years of translation experience in Korea and the U.S.

We include everything from translation techniques to finding Korean translation service.

Let’s dive right in!

Korean translation

Korean translation has been performed for hundreds of years.

The language itself originates in 300 BC, but Hangeul, the modern alphabet, was created in 1442 AD.

Today, Korean translation is a robust industry with the large amount of products and culture that Korea exports.

There are many lucrative career opportunities related to the industry.

Or it can be a fun way to understand Kpop and Kdramas better.

What is Korean translation?

Korean translation is the conversion of another language into Korean or vice versa.

For example, you can translate English writing into Korean or Korean writing into English.

This can be performed by people, software or a combination of both.

Is Google Translate accurate for Korean?

Yes and no. But mostly no.

Google Translate has improved by leaps and bounds since it was first created.

It’s an amazing tool that is good for plain, everyday language.

But for anything more complex than simple phrases, it isn’t reliable.

For example, Korean and English are very different languages in both origin and structure.

Their sentence structures don’t even match.

Google Translate can’t reconcile these differences, especially with sentences containing multiple clauses.

Both languages have numerous idioms and concepts that have no equivalent in their counterpart.

Literal translations of these terms performed by Google Translate will yield awkward phrasing at best.

What is the best Korean translator?

The best Korean translator is a professional with decades of translation experience armed with terminology and translation software.

The only thing better is a pair of native Korean and English-speaking professionals collaborating to get the best blend of localized and accurate translation.

How do I become a Korean translator?

There’s no internationally recognized certification to become a Korean translator.

You also don’t need a degree.

The best way is to have a passion for languages and spend decades learning about their nuances.

At Lingua Asia, we’re a collective of native Korean and native English speakers who have studied both languages for decades, both in academic settings and in the real world.

How hard is Korean translation?

Hard, but the level of difficulty depends on the language pair.

Korean to and from Japanese is easier than Mandarin Chinese.

Korean to and from English is considerably harder than the previously mentioned pairs.

On a scale of 1-10 in terms of difficulty:

  • Korean/Japanese would be 7
  • Korean/Chinese would be 8
  • Korean/English would be 9

This is because English is very different from Korean.

For example, some grammar rules in Korean are more logical than their English counterparts and vice versa, so native speakers in both are necessary for accurate and well-written translation.

Korean speakers often struggle with article usage (a/the) in English, because the rules are inconsistent.

On the other hand, English speakers have trouble with topic (은/는) and particle (이/가) markers in Korean, which do not exist in English.

These differences can lead to major errors, making it especially hard to find reliable Korean and English translators.

What is the best Korean translation app?

There are numerous auto translation apps including:

  • Google Translate
  • Naver Dictionary
  • Papago Translate
  • Greenlife Korean English Translator
  • Daum dictionary
  • Klays-Development Korean-English Translator
  • SayHi
  • Genie Talk

They all have their pros and cons, but work well for simple phrases like when you’re traveling or ordering at a restaurant.

When is a Korean translator needed?

A human translator is necessary for important documents where accuracy and sounding natural is vital.

This can include product manuals, legal documents, marketing material, medical documents, software, etc.

A Korean translation company is a good idea when an extra layer of quality control is necessary.

Especially for customer facing documents and other times when large amounts of money are on the line.

Who can become a Korean translator?

It’s a good idea to be a native speaker in the target language you’re translating into.

For example, if you’re doing Korean to English, it’s very helpful to be a native English speaker.

That way you’ll have mastery over one of the languages.

There are exceptions to this rule, but there are very few that can be effective translators this way.

Being bilingual is not always enough. You have to have sense for communication and be very focused.

You must have a passion for languages and be detail-oriented.

It also doesn’t hurt to be patient and be willing to ask for help from native speakers in the source language.

Why should I become a Korean and English translator?

It may seem like a difficult and thankless job, but there are many advantages to becoming a Korean translator.

  • Stimulating. It’s very interesting to learn about the two different languages.
  • Plenty of work. Korea and English speaking countries have robust economies. There’s a lot of import and export between them. This leads to numerous documents that need to be translated.
  • Job security. There aren’t many good Korean and English translators compared to say, English and Spanish translators. Once you have a decent skill set, you can get regular clients relatively easy.
  • High income. If you’re reliable and skilled, you can charge enough to live comfortably.
  • Work from home. You don’t need to go into an office in order to translate.

When should I become a Korean translator?

The sooner the better, although I’ve met people who started in their 40s.

This was possible because they had been bilingual for many years.

Where can I find Korean translator jobs?

There are many websites where you can find job postings including:

Where can I find a good Korean translator?

Look no further. You found the best!

Here are some tips when translating Korean.

Korean to English translation techniques

Translating Korean sentences with “and” + “or”

Step 1. Identify the conjunction (접속사)

  • 촉촉하고 부드러운 제품을 원하시는 분
  • Customers who want a moist and smooth product
  • 풍성하고 조밀한 텍스처를 원하시는 분
  • Customers who want rich and dense texture
  • 트러블이 나거나 민감해진 피부를 진정시키고 싶은 분
  • Customers who want to soothe troubled or sensitive skin
  • 외부 활동이 많거나 유해물질로부터 피부를 보호하고 싶은 분
  • Customers who want to protect skin from outdoor activities or harmful substances

Step 2. Identify object and adjectives 

  • 촉촉하고 부드러운 제품을 원하시는 분
  • Customers who want a moist and smooth product
  • 풍성 하고 조밀한 텍스처를 원하시는 분
  • Customers who want rich and dense texture
  • 트러블이 나거나 민감해진 피부를 진정시키고 싶은 분
  • Customers who want to soothe troubled or sensitive skin
  • 외부 활동이 많거나 유해물질로부터 피부를 보호하고 싶은 분
  • Customers who want to protect skin from outdoor activities or harmful substances

Translating Korean sentences with “that” + “as well as”

Step 1. Identify “that” + “as well as”

  • 노폐물까지 제거하는 클렌징 효과
  • Cleansing effect that removes impurities
  • 각질도 제거하는 클렌징 효과
  • Cleansing effect that exfoliates
  • 노폐물뿐만 아니라 각질도 제거하는 클렌징 효과
  • Cleansing effect that removes impurities as well as dead skin cells

Step 2. Identify subjectverb and object

  • 노폐물까지 제거하는 클렌징 효과
  • Cleansing effect that removes impurities
  • 각질도 제거하는 클렌징 효과
  • Cleansing effect that exfoliates / removes dead skin cells
  • 노폐물뿐만 아니라 각질도 제거하는 클렌징 효과
  • Cleansing effect that removes impurities as well as dead skin cells

Translating Korean sentences with “while” + “for” + “with”

Step 1. Identify “while” + “for” + “with”

  • 피부에는 순하면서 클렌징은 완벽하게
  • Perfect cleansing while being mild on skin
  • 면역 강화를 위한 맞춤 솔루션
  • Customized solutions for strengthening the immune system
  • 보습막으로 샐 틈 없는 보습
  • Seamless hydration with a moisture barrier
  • 히아루론산과 보습막으로 촉촉하게
  • Moist with hyaluronic acid and a moisture barrier

Translating Korean sentences with “and” + “as ” + “before” + “after”

Step 1. Identify  “and” + “as ” + “before” + “after”

  • 오일 밤을 핸드크림 믹스해 핸드 마사지를 하며 발라도 좋아요
  • You can mix the Oil Balm with a hand cream and apply it to your hands
  • 피부에 서서히 흡수되면서 굉장히 촉촉해져요
  • As it is slowly absorbed into my skin, my face becomes extremely moisturized
  • 베이스 메이크업 전에 이마와 볼에 소량 발라서 윤기를 표현하죠
  • Before base make-up, I apply a small amount of the oil balm to my forehead and cheeks for radiance
  • 스팀 타월을 한 후에 오일 밤을 피부에 팩처럼 고르게 펴 바르죠
  • After using a hot towel, I evenly apply the oil balm all over my face, like a mask

Translating Korean sentences with “and” + “along” + “at” + “after”

Step 1. Identify  “and” + “along” + “at” + “after”

  • 부드럽게 펴 바른  가볍게 두드려 흡수 시킵니다.
  • Evenly apply and lightly pat to absorb.
  • 얼굴 안쪽에서 바깥쪽으로 피부결을 따라 부드럽게 닦아냅니다.
  • Gently wipe from the center of the face outwards along skin texture.
  • 세안  스킨 단계에서 손바닥에 적당량 덜어 얼굴에 도포한  그대로 흡수시킵니다.
  • At the toner step after cleansing, take a sufficient amount on your palm, apply to skin and allow it to be absorbed.
  • 화장솜에 소량을 덜어 피부결을 따라 부드럽게 닦아내어 톡톡 두드려 흡수시켜 줍니다.
  • Take a small amount on a cotton pad, gently apply along skin texture and lightly pat to absorb.

Step 2. Identify the verb and adverb

  • 부드럽게 펴 바른 후 가볍게 두드려 흡수 시킵니다.
  • Evenly apply and lightly pat to absorb.
  • 얼굴 안쪽에서 바깥쪽으로 피부결을 따라 부드럽게 닦아냅니다.
  • Gently wipe from the center of the face outwards along skin texture.

Translating Korean sentences with “contains” + “extracts” 

Step 1. Identify  “contains” + “extracts” 

  • 프레시한 시트러스 향기가 나는 레몬 버베나의 추출물이 함유되어 있다.
  • Contains lemon verbena extract with a fresh citrus scent.
  • 알로에베라 추출물과 편백수 함유로 피부진정+수분공급+피부정화 효과가 우수합니다.
  • Contains Aloe Vera extract and cypress water for an excellent soothing + hydrating + purifying effect.
  • 백금성분과 장미잎이 함유되어 피부를 부드럽게 가꾸어 주는 마스크
  • A mask containing platinum and roseleaf that softens skin

Translating Korean Marketing Copy 

Step 1. Identify subject +  adjectives  

  • 개념 립 잉크
  • new concept of Lip Ink
  • 무게감 제로! 선명한 앙큼 발색!
  • Zero weightVivid, cute color!
  • MT도 두렵지 않아!
  • No worries about weekend getaways!
  • 불가리아장미수와 이중보습층으로 촉촉하게
  • Hydrates with Bulgarian Rose Water and dual moisturizing layers
  • 지저분한 입술각질 Bye Bye~!
  • Say goodbye to messy keratin on lips~!

Translating long Korean sentences by breaking them up

How would you translate this long sentence?

크리미한 거품이 피부 노폐물을 부드럽게 제거해주면서 풍부한 영양으로 가득한 우유 단백질이
촉촉하고 매끄러운 마무리감을 선사하는 마일드한 사용감의 폼 클렌징입니다.

Step 1. Divide it into smaller sentences

크리미한 거품이 피부 노폐물을 부드럽게 제거해주면서 /
풍부한 영양으로 가득한 우유 단백질이 /
촉촉하고 매끄러운 마무리감을 선사하는 /
마일드한 사용감의 폼 클렌징입니다.

Step 2. Identify subjectverb and object

  • 거품이 피부 노폐물을 제거합니다.
  • Foam removes skin impurities.
  • 우유 단백질이 촉촉하고 매끄러운 마무리감을 선사합니다.
  • Milk protein provides moist, smooth finish.
  • 폼 클렌징입니다.
  • It’s a foam cleanser.
  • 크리미한 거품이 피부 노폐물을 부드럽게 제거해줍니다.
  • Creamy foam gently removes skin impurities.

Step 3. Bundle dependent clauses

  • 풍부한 영양으로 가득한 우유 단백질이 촉촉하고 매끄러운 마무리감을 선사합니다.
  • Milk protein full of nutrients provides moist, smooth finish.
  • 마일드한 사용감의 폼 클렌징입니다.
  • It’s foam cleanser with mild texture.

Step 4. Find the connective

  • 크리미한 거품이 피부 노폐물을 부드럽게 제거해주면서
  • While its creamy foam gently removes skin impurities,

Step 5. Find the verbs

  • 크리미한 거품이 피부 노폐물을 부드럽게 제거해주면서 풍부한 영양으로 가득한 우유 단백질이 촉촉하고 매끄러운 마무리감을 선사하는 마일드한 사용감의 폼 클렌징입니다.
  • While its creamy foam gently removes skin impurities, milk protein full of nutrients provides a moist, smooth finish. It’s a foam cleanser with mild texture.

Step 5. Restructure

  • 크리미한 거품이 피부 노폐물을 부드럽게 제거해주면서 / 풍부한 영양으로 가득한 우유 단백질이 촉촉하고 매끄러운 마무리감을 선사합니다.
  • While its creamy foam gently removes skin impurities, / milk protein full of nutrients provides a moist, smooth finish.
  • 크리미한 거품이 피부 노폐물을 부드럽게 제거해주면서 / 풍부한 영양으로 가득한 우유 단백질이 촉촉하고 매끄러운 마무리감을 선사하는 / 마일드한 사용감의 폼 클렌징입니다.
  • While its creamy foam gently removes skin impurities, / milk protein full of nutrients provides a moist, smooth finish. / It’s a foam cleanser with mild texture.

References

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