Korean-to-English Translation

Get premium Korean-to-English translation services from an expert translator with 20+ years of experience.

I translate a range of technical materials from English into Korean, including Korean financial statements and corporate communications, birth certificates, patents, medical records, and more.

It may surprise you to know that the Korean-to-English language pair is unique in a variety of ways. This page will help you understand some important aspects of the Korean-to-English translation market. As a result, you will make better decisions about getting Korean documents translated into English.

When you’re ready, I would love to hear from you. Contact me to discuss your project and get a free quote.


I PROVIDE BEST-PRACTICE PREMIUM KOREAN-TO-ENGLISH TRANSLATION SERVICES.

  • Work directly with your Korean-to-English translator!
  • Accurate and well-written translation into English
  • Transparent pricing with discount options
  • Guaranteed, on-time delivery
  • Thorough confidentiality of all materials
  • Easy accessibility, communication, and personal service before, during, and after your project

KOREAN-TO-ENGLISH TRANSLATION OVERVIEW

Find out everything about getting high-quality Korean-to-English translation services!

Heading Out from Deoksan
Photo by Steven S. Bammel

Along Section 9 of the Chirisan Doollae-Gil (1 of 13)
http://seongpodong.koreanconsulting.com


ARTICLES FROM THE KOREAN TRANSLATION BEST-PRACTICES SERIES


you have the greatest Korean-reading skills among non-native translators I’ve ever seen, and you are even better than native Korean translators in your fields. I’ve learned much from you about how I should develop my own skills. I appreciate your service...”

Manager Kim Dol, SI-Docurator (Seoul, Korea)

Major document types

Six major areas dominate the market for technical Korean-to-English translation.

Financial documents

Foreign investors, companies doing business in Korea, and attorneys working on international cases need to understand the information in Korean financial statements, tax returns, articles from the Korean financial press, and other similar materials related to their work in Korea.

Legal documents

Companies doing business in Korea and attorneys representing overseas clients are my prime clients for Korean-to-English translation of legal documents, including corporate registrations, contracts and other business agreements, Korean laws and regulations, and Korean court decisions, briefs, and related work.

Business documents

Attorneys involved in international legal work are also leading buyers of business-related translation since they often acquire large volumes of internal corporate documentation from Korean companies and need to have these translated in order to prepare their cases.

Companies doing business — or intending to do business — in Korea (such as American companies exporting products to Korea) need well-translated English versions of Korean-language product documentation and business correspondence.

Occasionally, foreign government agencies and multinational companies even receive Korean-language whistleblower reports or market surveys filled out by Koreans, and hire a professional Korean-to-English translator so that they can understand the information and take action.

On the other hand, Korean clients approach me to translate marketing collateral, customer and investor newsletters, and other materials to be published in English for an overseas audience.

Academic and scientific papers

Academics and corporate researchers around the world come across Korean patents and published papers that they wish to understand clearly. Getting these translated helps them stay current on important technological developments in Korea.

Korean academics also need translation and editing help to publish their Korean-language research in English.

Medical documents

Pharmaceutical companies carrying out clinical trials in Korea require a so-called “back-translation” validation into English after they have first translated their materials into Korean.

Medical insurance companies order the translation of Korean medical records and receipts for medical claims.

Patients transferring overseas from medical facilities in Korea sometimes wish to have their medical records translated to English to aid in the treatment process.

Personal documents

Koreans working through the immigration process overseas need birth certificates and other vital documents translated to English for submission in the application process.

I am also sometimes asked to translate Korean driver’s licenses, police reports, college diplomas, awards, and other personal information as well.


“Hello Steven, I am pleased with the business cards translations. Your service was exceptional. Your added offerings on etiquette are most appreciated. I will be pleased to share your services with others and when needed contact you for your services.”

Bruce Cotterman, Managing Director, The BAS Group LLC (Management Services – Atlanta, GA)

Major client segments

The market for technical Korean-to-English translation is made up of three major client segments, and each segment focuses on a single project objective: information, publishing, or official submission. This means that a professional translator must become familiar with the requirements of the typical client and gain expertise in meeting those expectations on a project-by-project basis.

Non-Korean clients for information purposes

My top clients for Korean-to-English translation are non-Koreans who need to understand in English what Korean documents say. These primarily include attorneys, financial investors, and companies.

Korean clients for publishing purposes

Another client segment I serve with Korean-to-English translation is Korean companies and public agencies that need to publish information in English for an international audience. They could send these out for translation to English by local Korean translators in Korea (and save money in the process). But if they want their written translations to read fluently in English, then they need to work with a native English speaker.

Korean and non-Korean clients for official purposes

Korean individuals with official documents in Korean that needs to be translated for an official purpose are another client segment. This category of work mainly includes Korean “birth certificates” for Koreans applying for long-term or immigrant visas overseas. However, I likewise translate other personal official documents for a variety of official purposes, too.


“Korean Consulting is an extraordinary company. For almost two years I’ve worked with Steven and he is a rock-solid dependable, flexible and extremely agreeable translator to work with!”

Katie A., NCsoft (Online Game Developer – Austin, Texas)

Unique translation issues

English and Korean are extremely different from one another in many ways. As a result, translating from English into Korean involves great skill in expressing Korean word styles to English without producing pedantically literal translations. The following are the major challenges a Korean-to-English translator must overcome in the translation process.

Levels of respect and social status

Respect and hierarchy are built into the Korean language in ways that are not easy to replicate in English. When speaking to someone in English, we mainly refer to them using “you” and the person’s name. However, in Korean, the second-person pronoun is often only implied in a sentence, and job titles are commonly (but not always) used in place of names.

Furthermore, the Korean language is built around an intricate structure of respect that uses specific honorific words, characters, and verb endings to specify the absolute and relative ranks of the person speaking, the person being spoken to, and the person being spoken about. None of this is easily translated into English without the English translation sounding stilted and awkward.

Articles, gender pronouns, and plurals

The Korean language does not use articles (“a,” “an,” and “the”) at all. Furthermore, though gender pronouns (“he/she,” “him/her,” etc.) and plurals exist in Korean, they do not flow off the tongue as naturally as they do in English and are often omitted. A translator into English has to reinterpret the Korean in context to place these correctly in a way that communicates naturally and correctly in English.

Levels of interpersonal closeness, including the distinction between written and spoken language

The basic Korean sentence ends in a verb, and the verb ending reflects important social and application contexts. In terms of interpersonal intimacy, verb endings in Korean differ based on the closeness and relative ranks of the speaker and listener. Verb endings in written Korean also vary depending on context and even depend somewhat on whether the language is being spoken or written. Since these considerations do not exist in English, a Korean-to-English translator must ignore such verb ending nuances directly, but must still find ways to communicate the meaning in a culturally and linguistically accurate way.


“Steven, thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for — and the fact that you included the Korean above the translation is great. I will certainly send you any additional materials I have as we receive them, and will also be sending you letters to translate into Korean from time to time.”

Jim. M. (Parent of Adopted Korean Child – Fairfield, New Jersey)

Skills of the translator

A translator of Korean-to-English must be an expert in the unique language aspects described above. However, a good translator must also bring a variety of additional skills to the work and not rely simply on language fluency.

Subject matter expertise

A Korean-to-English translator needs to be prepared for the content being translated. Korean industry is strong in manufacturing (such as automobiles, heavy chemicals, telecommunications, semiconductors, etc.). As a result, much content for translation is focused on these fields.

In addition, translating Korean business texts to English requires a deep understanding of Korean business culture, in addition to the technical subject matter. This sometimes demands that the translator be familiar with the Korean legal, tax, and accounting systems, and the current political environment.

Source text format preparedness

A much larger proportion of Korean-to-English translation source text is provided in a non-editable format (mostly meaning PDF files created from scans), compared to English-to-Korean translation. This reflects the general ad hoc nature of most efforts to translate Korean to English on texts originally created without a plan to translate them. Thus, formatting skills are important.

Furthermore, even when texts are editable, some Korean documents are created and maintained in the native Korean wordprocessing program named Hangul (not Microsoft Word), which requires additional software skills.

Understanding of client expectations

Korean clients

Meeting client expectation is about more than just delivering a technically good translation. Turnarounds are important, too. Korean clients tend to expect faster deliveries. This seems to be related to Korean business culture characteristics.

Another aspect of working with Korean clients is that, due to the paperwork involved in Korean tax matters, the original client often has another entity process the payment. They often notify me of this after the original project terms were agreed.

Western clients

Western clients come with a different set of expectations. Legal contracts, including non-disclosure agreements, are the norm. On-time delivery is absolutely sacred. Also, non-Korean clients often have little to no knowledge or interest in Korea or Korean itself; their connection to the Korean-to-English translation is primarily for work purposes. Therefore, being able to provide additional insights on concepts that would not make sense in a Western framework can add great value to a Korean-to-English translation project.


“Thank you Steven.  I appreciate all your help and your attention to detail.  I will let you know if we come across any issues.  It has been a pleasure working with you.”

M. Harris Stamey, Esq. (Porter & Hedges LLP – Houston, Texas)

Get Korean-to-English translation that meets your needs.

As described above, the Korean-to-English translation language pair and direction is unique in a variety of ways. During my 20+ year career in Korea and in Korean translation, I have developed deep language and cultural fluency. In addition, I am also familiar with the business, legal, and financial landscape, and even the technical areas in which Korean companies work. I have practiced working through the incongruities between English and Korean. I am prepared to provide you with services that meet your expectations.