Korean Translation

Professional Korean and English Translation Services

 by Richard Walker
 Last updated on Nov. 5, 2019



Lingua Asia Translation brings together thousands of years of Korean and English linguistic history for you.

Finding professional Korean and English translation services is hard. There are many Korean translation companies claiming to be the best.

On top of this, the two languages are often night and day, including the cultural background in which they were formed.

Since our company is owned and operated by a native Korean and English speaker, we understand the nuances between the languages.

best korean translation

Our company owners are involved in every step of the process to ensure high quality service. In the event that we require a specialist, we only work with the most detail-oriented professional translators.

Not only is it necessary to work with the best translators, we’ve found that one can’t handle Korean to English translation perfectly. The two languages are far too different and few can master them both. A native speaker in each language is necessary to provide the highest quality. That’s why we developed a system of collaboration between native English and Korean translators that is beyond ISO 9001 quality control.

Our procedure has been refined over the past 10 years to create translation that doesn’t miss a beat while sounding natural. When you are too busy to jump through the hoops of Korean translation, you can count on us to deliver flawless files. Check out our procedure below!


Or jump to:
Korean Industry Experience
What We Provide
Korean Translation Tips
Korean Translation Techniques


  1. Once you send us a file by email, we provide an accurate quote
  2. After you confirm, we have a meeting on how best to handle your project
  3. We upload your file into OmegaT translation software to organize it and make sure nothing is missed
  4. A professional translator with a minimum 5 years of experience translates using online research tools and databases
  5. It’s proofread with tracked changes so they can be discussed
  6. Then it’s reviewed by both a Korean and English speaker together to ensure balanced translation
  7. We use Ginger Software to smooth out the writing
  8. We run a spelling and grammar check to catch any errors we might have missed
  9. A native English speaker reads the file once more to make sure it flows and sounds natural
  10. Finally, it’s delivered to you on-time and complete


Korean Industry Experience

Korean work culture is known for being very intense. Koreans work the second highest number of hours per year. As a result, Korea has one of the most robust economies in the world. It has the 5th largest export economy and the 6th most complex economy, according to the Economic Complexity Index(ECI). Providing translation services in this environment can be demanding as well as rewarding.

After 10 years of translating for top 10 companies in Korea, including Samsung, LG, and Hyundai, we’ve seen it all. Doing business in Korea can be challenging, but choosing Lingua Asia Translation for your language services makes it easier.

We translate, proofread and review documents in house. When a file contains subject matter outside our fields of expertise, we work with the best specialists who have been carefully screened.

We provide high quality English and Korean translation services to numerous entities including cosmetic, finance and pharmaceutical companies as well as legal firms, government offices and tech giants. We also handle localization of software and websites to and from Korean.


full-service Korean translation company
We are a full-service Korean translation company that proofreads and reviews every file in house


Korean Document Translation Services

We have extensive experience translating Korean documents in most file formats including Hangul Word Processor(HWP), MS Word, Powerpoint and Excel (for PDF, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator formats, additional editing fees may apply). We excel at translating Korean documents into English as well.


Korean Cosmetic Translation

Cosmetics companies were our first major clients as they belong to one of the more robust industries and have a lot of demand. They need their documents promptly and error-free since they often present them directly to buyers. The stakes are high and a single typo can be the difference between a million dollar deal or “we’ll think about it”. We developed many good habits while working with these companies, such as punctuality and clear communication. Some of the projects we worked on are:

  • Korean cosmetic translation of marketing materials such as presentations, brochures and blogs
  • SNS including, Instagram and Facebook posts as well as tweets
  • Contracts and supplier agreements
  • Meeting notes
  • Research articles


Korean Legal Translation

We are always excited to perform legal translation. Since details are so vital in this field, we can further show how we excel compared to the competition. We scour every inch of contracts multiple times to make sure nothing is overlooked, since there is no room for error in this field. Any ambiguity can cost our clients big time in the future, so we always go over such clauses with them. We pride ourselves on never having a client issue with our legal translation. Our experience includes:

  • Korean legal translation of commercial contracts, employment contracts, distribution agreements, sale agreements and company statutes
  • Regulations, lawsuits, complaints and letters of intent
  • Patent and IP document translation
  • Terms and conditions


Korean Technical Translation

Technical translation is a broad category that covers anything requiring a technical or scientific background in both source and target languages. Lingua Asia Translation has had the privilege of being involved with pill press manufacturing and power plant projects. We always try to explain terms clearly and objectively to help readers perform a predefined task. We provide a wide range of high quality Korean technical translation services. This includes:

  • Korean Translation of patents and patent applications
  • Technical drawings and engineering documents
  • Technical manuals, user guides and web content into Korean
  • Equipment catalogs, data sheets and schematics
  • Scientific and white papers
  • Technical E-learning modules for online use


Korean Medical Translation

Korean medical translators with experience in western and eastern medicine are hard to find. Lingua Asia Translation provides a wide range of high quality Korean medical translation services for some of the world’s leading companies. We have worked extensively with dental implant and pharmaceutical companies. Our experience also includes:

  • Korean translation of clinical, regulatory, and technical documentation
  • Clinical trial materials like clinical protocols, clinical study agreements, patient diaries, drug labels and inserts
  • Medical devices including operating manuals and user guides and localization of medical software
  • Brochures and web content
  • Medical bulletins


Korean Patent Translation

With the rise in globalization, international patents are more important than ever. Korean patent translation is a vital part in gaining legal protection for an company’s IP. We have translated the following:

  • Patent claims
  • Legal documentation relating to a patent dispute
  • Descriptions and drawings
  • Prior art/abstracts


Korean Energy Translation

Korean Solar Energy and Photo-voltaic Technology are among the best in the world. We especially love working in this field, because it is so cutting edge. Also, we can contribute to a cleaner and more habitable planet for all life. We have had the privilege of translating many types of content for this industry. This includes:

Korean Solar Energy company profiles, marketing material and website content


Korean Product Manual Translation

Korea has a very dynamic consumer culture. Products from all over the world can be found in stores there. We have helped many international companies enter the Korean market with clear and concise product manuals.



What We Provide

It’s important to know what you’re getting before you buy. Here are the services included with every project we deliver:


  1. Personal project manager to provide you with consistent service – Tired of the run around? Talk to only one person to simplify your life
  2. Free Quote in clear terms to clarify what you are buying – Not sure how translation costs are calculated? We make everything transparent so you know what you are paying for
  3. Accurate deadline and word count to save you time and money – Need results on-time? We make sure you get your file at the promised time for the right budget
  4. Sample of our previous work (upon request), so you know what you are getting – Afraid to buy something when you aren’t sure what you are getting? We show our quality before you commit, so there are no surprises
  5. Customization when you provide terms or a document you would like us to use as a guide – Does your industry use a certain jargon? We can emulate any style you provide
  6. Translation by a professional translator (minimum 5 years experience) in your field, so nothing is missed – Worried about translation quality? We only work with top translators because we hate to have unhappy customers
  7. Proofreading by a native speaker in your final language to ensure your translation sounds natural – Don’t have time to proofread? We include it in every project, so you can focus on what you do best
  8. Collaboration between the translator and proofreader, so you get the perfect balance of accurate and localized translation – Getting translation that sounds like it was done by a machine? We make sure your documents sound like a human being wrote them
  9. Internal review by company stakeholders to guarantee your translation is ready to be used – Tired of average quality? Our two company founders check every file, so you know there won’t be any major issues
  10. On time delivery so you can focus on what you do best – Worried about deadlines? We make sure you get your file on-time
  11. One free revision within 30 days – Have a part you want to rework? We make sure you get the help you need


By providing these services with every translation project, we minimize the difficult aspects of Korean translation.


Best Korean translators
We make Korean translation easy for you


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.

Here are some other challenges a translation company may face when translating between Korean and English.


Korean Translation Tips


1. Alphabet

Fortunately, the Korean language has an alphabet that was created scientifically by the order of King Sejong. Unfortunately, it is very different from English, which makes Romanization of English words into Korean difficult.

Korean Alphabet Chart

Consonants Vowels
ㅏ (a) ㅑ (ya) ㅓ (eo) ㅕ (yeo) ㅗ (o) ㅛ (yo) ㅜ (u) ㅠ (yu) ㅡ (eu) ㅣ (ee)
ㄱ (g)
ㄴ (n)
ㄷ (d)
ㄹ (r/l)
ㅁ (m)
ㅂ (b)
ㅅ (s)
ㅇ (-/ng)
ㅈ (j)
ㅊ (ch)
ㅋ (k)
ㅌ (t)
ㅍ (p)
ㅎ (h)


There are numerous sounds in Korean that do not exist in English and vice versa.

This can be confusing since the rules of Romanization that were created in 1972 continue to be changed. It is important to use the current standard of Romanization.

Example: Shincheon, Shinchon, Shinchun and Shicheong are all very different places and are especially hard to keep straight for those who have never been to Korea.

This is important to keep in mind when translating addresses in contracts, because the wrong name or address can invalidate everything.


Hangeul Korean alphabet
The Korean alphabet is a scientific marvel

2. Three Numeral Systems

Korean uses native Korean numbers and Sino-Korean numbers, which are based on Chinese. There are also ordinal numbers that stem from the Korean system.

Numeral Sino-Korean Native Korean Ordinal
0 공 (gong)
영 (yeong)
제로 (jero)
1 일 (il) 하나 (hana) 첫째 (cheot-jjae)
2 이 (ee) 둘 (dul) 둘째 (dul-jjae)
3 삼 (sam) 셋 (set) 셋째 (set-jjae)
4 사 (sa) 넷 (net) 넷째 (net-jjae)
5 오 (o) 다섯 (dah-seot) 다섯째 (dah-seot-jjae)
6 육 (yuk) 여섯 (yeo-seot) 여섯째 (yeo-seot-jjae)
7 칠 (chil) 일곱 (il-gop) 일곱째 (il-gop-jjae)
8 팔 (pal) 여덟 (yeo-deol) 여덟째 (yeo-deol-jjae)
9 구 (gu) 아홉 (ah-hop) 아홉째 (ah-hop-jjae)
10 십 (ship) 열 (yeol) 열째 (yeol-jjae)
11 십일 (ship-il) 열하나 (yeol-hana) 열한째 (yeol-han-jjae)
12 십이 (ship-ee) 열둘 (yeol-dul) 열둘째 (yeol-dul-jjae)
13 십삼 (ship-sam) 열셋 (yeol-set) 열셋째 (yeol-set-jjae)
14 십사 (ship-sa) 열넷 (yeol-net) 열넷째 (yeol-net-jjae)
15 십오 (ship-o) 열다섯 (yeol-dah-seot) 열다섯째 (yeol-dah-seot-jjae)
16 십육 (ship-yuk) 열여섯 (yeol-yeo-seot) 열여섯째 (yeol-yeo-seot-jjae)
17 십칠 (ship-chil) 열일곱 (yeol-il-gop) 열일곱째 (yeol-il-gop-jjae)
18 십팔 (ship-pal) 열여덟 (yeol-yeo-deol) 열여덟째 (yeol-yeo-deol-jjae)
19 십구 (ship-gu) 열아홉 (yeol-ah-hop) 열아홉째 (yeol-ah-hop-jjae)
20 이십 (ee-ship) 스물 (seu-mul) 스무째 (seu-mul-jjae)
30 삼십 (sam-ship) 서른 (seo-reun) 서른째 (seo-reun-jjae)
40 사십 (sa-ship) 마흔 (mah-heun) 마흔째 (mah-heun-jjae)
50 오십 (o-ship) 쉰 (shin) 쉰째 (shin-jjae)
60 육십 (yuk-ship) 예순 (ye-sun) 예순째 (ye-sun-jjae)
70 칠십 (chil-ship) 일흔 (il-heun) 일흔째 (il-heun-jjae)
80 팔십 (pal-ship) 여든 (yeo-deun) 여든째 (yeo-deun-jjae)
90 구십 (gu-ship) 아흔 (ah-heun) 아흔째 (ah-heun-jjae)
100 백 (baek) 온 (on) 온째 (on-jjae)
백째 (baek-jjae)
200 이백 (ee-baek) 이백째 (ee-baek-jjae)
300 삼백 (sam-baek) 삼백째 (sam-baek-jjae)
400 사백 (sa-baek) 사백째 (sa-baek-jjae)
500 오백 (o-baek) 오백째 (o-baek-jjae)
600 육백 (yuk-baek) 육백째 (yuk-baek-jjae)
700 칠백 (chil-baek) 칠백째 (chil-baek-jjae)
800 팔백 (pal-baek) 팔백째 (pal-baek-jjae)
900 구백 (gu-baek) 구백째 (gu-baek-jjae)
1,000 천 (cheon) 즈믄 (jeu-meun) 천째 (cheon-jjae)
2,000 이천 (ee-cheon) 이천째 (ee-cheon-jjae)
3,000 삼천 (sam-cheon) 삼천째 (sam-cheon-jjae)
4,000 사천 (sa-cheon) 사천째 (sa-cheon-jjae)
5,000 오천 (o-cheon) 오천째 (o-cheon-jjae)
6,000 육천 (yuk-cheon) 육천째 (yuk-cheon-jjae)
7,000 칠천 (chil-cheon) 칠천째 (chil-cheon-jjae)
8,000 팔천 (pal-cheon) 팔천째 (pal-cheon-jjae)
9,000 구천 (gu-cheon) 구천째 (gu-cheon-jjae)
10,000 만 (mahn) 골 (gol) 만째 (mahn-jjae)
20,000 이만 (ee-mahn) 이만째 (ee-mahn-jjae)
30,000 삼만 (sam-mahn) 삼만째 (sam-mahn-jjae)
40,000 사만 (sa-mahn) 사만째 (sa-mahn-jjae)
50,000 오만 (o-mahn) 오만째 (o-mahn-jjae)
60,000 육만 (yuk-mahn) 육만째 (yuk-mahn-jjae)
70,000 칠만 (chil-mahn) 칠만째 (chil-mahn-jjae)
80,000 팔만 (pal-mahn) 팔만째 (pal-mahn-jjae)
90,000 구만 (gu-mahn) 구만째 (gu-mahn-jjae)
100,000 십만 (ship-mahn) 십만째 (ship-mahn-jjae)
1,000,000 백만 (baek-mahn) 백만째 (baek-mahn-jjae)
10,000,000 천만 (cheon-mahn) 천만째 (cheon-mahn-jjae)
100,000,000 억 (eok) 잘 (jahl) 억째 (eok-jjae)
1,000,000,000,000 조 (jo) 울 (ul) 조째 (jo-jjae)

This is akin to English using Hindu-Arabic numbers as well as Roman numerals in rare cases such as Superbowls and Rocky movies. However, the Korean number systems are used daily in different situations.

For example, Korean numbers are used for counting people, objects and age, while Chinese-based numbers are for counting money, dates, addresses and phone numbers. Beyond 100, Korean numbers are not often used and Sino-Korean numbers take over.

Using the incorrect number system sounds incredibly strange to Koreans. Also, understanding number systems provides very helpful context clues when translating into English. One can predict the type of object being counted when it is not specified in the source text, which happens frequently in Korean.


3. Slang and Abbreviations

Koreans are very much into trends. Word choice is no exception and there are numerous ways to play with words in Korean.

Example: when Koreans learn vocabulary, they remember the opposite word. This enters into their vernacular with expressions like 금수저”gold spoon” or 흙수저”dirt spoon”. Which are the equivalent of being born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth or not.

아라 or “arah” is an abbreviation of 아이라인 or “eye line”. It is very difficult for a non-native Korean speaker to understand these abbreviations, because 아라 can be a girl’s name as well.

The usage of newly developed slang becomes ubiquitous almost instantaneously given the connectivity and homogeneity of the people.

It is important to keep up with these words, especially when translating marketing copy.


4. Sentence Structure

While English sentence structure is Subject-Verb-Object, Korean sentence structure is usually Subject-Object-Verb, with some exceptions.

Example: “남자가 고양이를 보았다” which is literally “man cat saw”. We would translate this to “The man saw a cat.”

This can cause confusion of who is doing what to whom when translating.


5. Advanced Sentence Structure

There are also situations where you are dealing with sentences with multiple objects, which are common. Also, as stated above, the order can be switched even further with the object coming before the subject.

Example: 준호가 신문을 본다, “Joonho newspaper reads” which can also be acceptably written as신문을 준호가 본다, “newspaper Joonho reads”.

In these situations it is very important to pay attention to the object markers and the context of the sentence.


reliable Korean translation
Korean sentence structure is not intuitive for English speakers

6. Multiple Objects

There are also cases of more than one object in a sentence.

Example, 영미는 자장면을 그릇을 주문했다, “Yeongmi Jajangmyeon (black bean sauce noodle) three bowls ordered.” This makes little sense in English, and should be localized to, “Yeongmi ordered three bowls of black bean sauce noodles.”

It is important to be familiar with these situations, so you can preserve their meaning.


7. Use of Subjects and Objects

Often times the subject or object is left out of a sentence, making it confusing for English speakers.

In fact, ellipsis, or omission of a subject or object occurs 69.22% of the time for subjects, 13.78% of the time for objects in Korean. Ellipsis occurs 31.5% of subject, 7.67% of object in English. The reason for this is Korea is focused more on the verb ending due to the use of honorifics. The verb is the center of Korean sentences whereas in English the noun is the center of the sentence.

Example: It would not be uncommon to see “고양이를 보았다” or “cat saw”.

This sentence is confusing because we do not know who the subject is. It would be necessary to look at the context to figure it out. The verb ending tells us this is a plain statement where someone saw a cat, and who it was is not important.

A mix up in the subject and object can alter the meaning of a sentence greatly and lead to misunderstandings.


8. Adjective Use

Koreans love their adjectives. They often use multiple ones in a sentence that sometimes become redundant.

If all redundant adjectives were translated in the following sentence, 수분감이 풍성하고 촉촉한 느낌의 피부보습 모이스춰라이징 크림, it would be “a skin hydrating moisturizing cream with rich moisture and a moist feeling”.

It is important to choose the key adjectives in the previous example in order to preserve meaning and not sound ridiculous. Using this example, “a skin hydrating moisturizing cream with a rich moisture and a moist feeling.” could be a potential solution.


9. Adjective Variety

There are many different versions of adjectives that are commonly used.

Example: even a simple word like “Yellow” could be “노랗다”, “노르스름하다“, “누렇다“, “누리끼리하다“, “노릇노릇하다“, “누리팅팅하다“ or “샛노랗다“. These are used depending on the situation to elicit different emotions.

Example: 노릇노릇하다 is normally used to express the color of food. 샛노랗다 Is used to express the color of flowers or clothes.

Mixing these up will change the tone of the sentence and potentially sound awkward.


10. Counting System

While Koreans write numbers with commas between the 1000’s digits like in English, they express numbers differently.

In English, numbers are divided by 1,000’s and follow the same pattern with 3 zeros (i.e. 1,000 = one thousand, 100,000 = one hundred thousand, etc.). In Korean they rise by 4 zeros, starting with 10,000 (만/mahn), 100,000,000 (억/eok) 1,000,000,000,000 (조/jo).

Example: Korea has a recorded history of 5,000 years, but call it “ban mahn nyeon” or “half of 10,000 years”. In regards to money, 100,000 (one hundred thousand) would be called ship mahn or ten ten thousand in Korean.

This is further complicated by the exchange rate between the Won and the US Dollar, which is roughly 1,000 to 1. 10억 or one billion won is equal to roughly one million usd.

Being off by a zero can create major issues down the road, especially when translating financial documents.


11. Konglish

Korean has extensive Konglish words, which are English words with completely different meanings. The most commonly used example being, “fighting”, which is actually a word of encouragement or a cheer.

Examples: Steering wheel would be 자동차 핸들 (car handle). Commercial would be CF광고 (CF advertisement). Trench coat would be 버버리 or 바바리 (Burberry). Stainless Steel would be 스텐 (stain).

A recent example is the tourism slogan for Seoul, which was previously “Hi Seoul” and is currently, “I.Seoul.You”, which was selected by a panel of linguists, government officials and private citizens. A side note, the slogan for the Korea Tourism Board was “Korea, Sparkling” and is now “Imagine Your Korea”.

In the past, “meeting” could actually mean “blind date”, which is particularly confusing at work. “Appointment” or “promise” is usually used to denote plans or even meetings. Nowadays, more and more Koreans are using “meeting” to actually mean a business meeting, while still using it at times to refer to blind dates, which are very common in Korea.

There are numerous examples of Konglish and it is important to either consult a Korean or double check the meanings of seemingly English words.


12. Honorifics

Honorifics take a lifetime to master and are the foundation of Korean language and culture. There are two main categories of speech, 존댓말 (jondaemal) and 반말 (banmal), or higher and lower levels. Within these two categories, there are seven levels of speech, with only four (Hasipsio – polite formal, Haeyo – polite for daily use, Haera – plain for speaking amongst friends, and Hae – an intimate style reserved for close friends or children) being used commonly today.

The different verb endings are a remnant of the time when Korea had a rigid class system. You are either higher or lower than the person you are speaking to. You can denote your level with verb endings.

The rules are too complicated to cover here, but there are two main issues you should be aware: how to address someone and how to refer to oneself. You can raise the level of the person you are speaking to and lower the level of yourself depending on the pronoun, object and verb you use.

As you can imagine, using these forms incorrectly will greatly damage the credibility of your translation.


13. Advanced Honorifics

To make matters more confusing, when speaking to someone about someone else, you must calculate the relative difference in position between the person you’re referring to and the person you are speaking to.

This is known as 압존법 or “relative honorifics”. The National Institute of Korean Language is trying to convince people not to use 압존법 since it is a remnant of Japanese colonization. However, it is still absolutely vital in Korean workplaces.

Example: You must change the postpositional particle and verb if the person you are speaking to is a higher position (age, title, etc.) than the person you are referring to. “부장님, 이 과장님은 지금 자리에 안 계십니다” This means, “General Manager, Manager Lee is not at his desk now”, with the bolded parts elevating the Manager higher than the General Manager, even though they both are in a higher position than you. In this situation, your General Manager would scold you by saying, “So, Manager Lee is higher than me?”

If you are off at all, you will look less educated (i.e. your parents are ignorant or didn’t bother teaching you etiquette) or even disrespectful.

Most Koreans perfect this while working at their first company job as it is confusing even for them.


14. Sentence Length

The quality of a writer in Korea is based on how long their sentences are. When translating into English, it is important to know where to break sentences with multiple clauses to preserve meaning and continuity.

Likewise, it is important to extend the length of sentences by combining them when translating from English to Korean in order to sound intelligent.

For example, “이 계획에 의하면, 비영리 사단법인인 우리글진흥원을 통해 구에서 발행하는 ‘중랑구소식’을 비롯한 생활정보문, 홍보물 등을 감수토록 하였으며, 직원들의 글쓰기 능력을 키워줄 ‘공공문장 바로 쓰기’ 특강을 개설할 예정이다.”, is one sentence of an article from Herald Corporation. It has 3 clauses and the subject isn’t even mentioned once. One would have to guess from the context that it is about a “revised plan”.

Again, it helps to have a Korean check your work when tackling sentences of this length.


15. Spacing

A misplaced space would equal a typo in English. However, it can alter the meaning of a word or sentence in Korean. For example, the word “안심하다” means “it’s a relief”, however, “안 심하다” with a space means “it’s not severe”.

To the untrained eye, both examples could be deemed acceptable in a sentence even though the meanings are completely different.


Korean spacing
Korean spacing requires attention to detail


16. Units

Pyeong is a uniquely Korean measurement unit for area that is approximately 3.3 ㎡. It is mostly used for the measurement of real estate. Needless to say, it is vital to be sure which unit of measurement is being used in a document.


17. Singular and Plural Nouns

While there is a way to denote singular and plural nouns, there is limited emphasis placed on them. Whether a noun is meant to be singular or plural is something that Korean speakers can decipher.


18. Verbs and Adjectives

The difference between verbs and adjectives is blurred in Korean. Adjectives can be used as verbs without adding a “be” verb. A commonly used example of this is 바쁘다 (busy) being used in a sentence as 나는 바빠요, which means, “I am busy”. There is no separate verb in the sentence, but it is built into the adjective.


19. Gender Specific Pronouns

Korean does not use gender specific pronouns. This can make it difficult to know which pronoun to use in English. Context is key in understanding whether a male or female is being referenced. Koreans are inherently good at this.


20. Definite and Indefinite Articles

Korean does not use articles such as “a” and “the”. This makes it challenging to choose the proper article in English when translating from Korean. Especially when it is unclear whether the noun is a proper noun or has been referred to already in the text.


21. Phonology

Korean is predominantly a syllable-timed language, unlike English, which is a stress-timed language. This means that all syllables receive equal stress and are spoken with flat intonation, which can sound somewhat robotic to English-speakers.


22. Critical Typos

Typos in English tend to relegate the intended word to gibberish.

In Korean, however, words are formed with syllable blocks of either one consonant + one vowel (가), one consonant + one vowel + one consonant (각) or one consonant + one vowel + one double consonant (깍). Each syllable block can form a word on its own and often have multiple meanings. If either the consonant or vowel is off, the meaning of the word can change greatly while still having meaning.

Example: 가지, 거지 and 까지 are all different by one consonant or vowel, but mean “eggplant”, “beggar” and “until” respectively.

It takes a keen eye and deep understanding of the language to recognize the difference between typos and intended words.


Typos in Korean translation
Typos in Korean translation can make a word unrecognizable


23. Subject-Verb Agreement

Korean sentences do not require the verb to correspond in number with the subject. For example in English, “they like” does not include the “s” while “he likes” adds the “s”; whereas Korean verbs are not conjugated in agreement with the subject. This makes translation from Korean to English a bit trickier. This is also a reason why it takes some English learners longer to remember the -s ending in the third person singular present simple tense.


24. Past Tense

Koreans usually reference the past through a single past tense. This also makes it difficult to choose the right tense from several possibilities (present perfect, past perfect continuous, past simple etc.) when translating into English.


25. Self vs Situation

Korean doesn’t normally reference the self in sentences. The actual situation is more important than where the person fits into it. An example of this is when asking for directions in Korean, one would say, “여기 어디에요?”, or “where’s here”. While in English, one would normally ask, “where am I”. It would be considered childish to ask in Korean, “내가 어디예요?” or “where am I”. Due to this, it is easy for native Koreans to recognize Gyopos (overseas Koreans) when they speak since they tend to violate this norm.


26. Addressing Others

In English, we take for granted being able to address someone directly with the word “you”. While in Korean, you can use the word “you”, but this will be considered very impolite if addressing anyone other than your friends or young children. There is a sophisticated etiquette of referring others by either their job title, name of their first born, relative age or relationship to you.



Korean Translation Techniques


Translating 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 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

Step 2. Identify subject, verb and object

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

Translating 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 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 steam towel, I evenly apply the oil balm all over my face, like a mask

Translating 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 outward 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 on 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 바른가볍게 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 outward along skin texture

Translating sentences with “contains” + “extracts” 

Step 1. Identify  “contains” + “extracts” 

  • 프레시한 시트러스 향기가 나는 레몬 버베나의 추출물함유되어 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 Marketing Copy 

Step 1. Identify subjectadjectives  

  • 신개념 립 잉크
  • A new concept of Lip Ink
  • 무게감 제로! 선명한 앙큼 발색!
  • Zero weight! Vivid, 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~!
  • Bye Bye to messy dead skin on lips~!

Translating long sentences by breaking them up

How would you go about translating 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 subject, verb and object

  • 거품피부 노폐물제거합니다.
  • Foam removes skin impurities.
  • 우유 단백질촉촉하고 매끄러운 마무리감선사합니다.
  • Milk protein provides a moist, smooth finish.
  • 폼 클렌징입니다.
  • It’s a foam cleanser.
  • 크리미한 거품피부 노폐물을 부드럽게 제거해줍니다.
  • Creamy foam gently removes skin impurities.

Step 3. Bundle dependent clauses

  • 풍부한 영양으로 가득한 우유 단백질촉촉하고 매끄러운 마무리감선사합니다.
  • Milk protein full of nutrients provides a moist, smooth finish.
  • 마일드한 사용감폼 클렌징입니다.
  • It’s a foam cleanser with a mild feeling.

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 a mild feeling.

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 a mild feeling.



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  • .., News From. “South Korea: New Seoul Slogan Sparks ‘Konglish’ Debate.” BBC News. N.p., 29 Oct. 2015. Web.
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