Korean Translation Tip: Don’t Just Use a Dictionary to Translate Job Titles into Korean

* Originally posted in Nojeok Hill: My View from the Top

If you’re translating English business cards into Korean, work with a professional who understands the intricacies of the task and asks enough questions to be able to translate job titles correctly.

For example, here are many (but not all) of the possibilities for translating “director” and its variants:

  • 이사
  • 전무
  • 전무이사
  • 상무이사
  • 대표이사
  • 원장
  • 회장
  • 실장
  • 소장
  • 센터장
  • 협회장
  • 부장
  • 국장
  • 청장
  • 총장
  • 사무총장
  • 사무국장
  • 감독
  • 디렉터
  • 지휘자
  • 중역
  • PD
  • 심의관

Some of these correspond with other possible English job titles, too. For the full run-down, check out “How Do You Write ‘Director’ in Korean?

“Director” is not the only confusing job title (admittedly, it is one of the harder ones though). This is not just because Korean organizations are structured differently than Western ones; you’ll also find that even the same jobs at the same level in the organization can sometimes imply different responsibilities.

I’d like to point out too that Koreans aren’t always helpful here since they tend to inflate their English job titles. I was at a (very well-known!) company recently where, of the ten business cards I was given by my Korean counterparts, every one but the president’s card listed him or her one rank higher in English than his/her card in Korean! It takes an honest broker to work through all this sometimes.

Korean Translation Tip – Don’t consider a business card translation a throw-away job just because the job title is only one word. Get professional help (such as from someone with a masters degree from a Korean university in management strategy).

2018-01-22T19:19:46+00:00 August 26th, 2014|

About the Author:

Steven S. Bammel - President of Korean Consulting & Translation Service, Inc. is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington (College of Business Administration), Steven S. Bammel worked in Seoul for nearly five years as an employee within the LG Group of South Korea. During that time, he learned about Korean business practices from the inside as the only non-Korean member of a team handling international trade support work for LG International, Corp. Steven also promoted overseas sales for several Korean companies and edited/translated hundreds of documents... | more about Steven