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How to submit an English document to a Chinese court
August 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Articles, News


Do you know the procedure to have your document legalized for a Chinese court? Yesterday we had a client who had to submit an English letter to a Chinese court. Unfortunately, she had no idea what to do about certifying it. We checked the Chinese court, our Chinese translators in china, our Chinese translators in Los Angeles, and nobody seemed to have a clear idea. Some even said we had to get it certified at the state, Washington D.C. and Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C for $1200.

Fortunately, I was able to get the following info. 1. You need to get a certified English to Chinese translation notarized. 2. You should get an apostille from the State Registrar’s office. 3. You need to get it authenticated at the Chinese Consulate. Everything for less than $300 at

Overwatch quotes in translated from Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Russian into English
August 16, 2016 by  
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Ana (Egyptian Arabic translated to English):
” وريهم أوتك ” (warreehom ow-wetak) : Show them your power
” العدالة نازلة من فوق ” (el adala nazla men fooa) : Justice rains from above
” أنا هاخد بالي منك ” (Ana hakhod bali mennak) : I’ll take care of you
” ده هيفيدك ” (dah hayfeedak) : This will help you
” إتعلم من الألم ” (etaalim min el alam) : Learn from the pain
” Bed time حبيبي ” (bed time, habibi) : Bed time, darling
” في الامتحان، يكرم المرؤ أو يهان ” (fel-imtihan yokramo al mar’o aw yohaan) : In a test, one is either honored or dishonored (Egyptian proverb)
” التكرار يعلم الشطار ” (attekraar yo’alem ashotar) : Repeating teaches the best / practice makes perfect (proverb)
” إسمع كلام الأكبر منك ” (esma kalaam el-akbar mennak) : Listen to those who are older than you / Listen to your elders
” خلصنا على الهدف ” (khalasna ala el hadaf) : Target neutralized
” أهلا ” (ahlan) : Hello
” عامل إيه ؟” (amil eh?) : How are you?
” إزّيك ” (ezzayyak) : How are you?
” شكرا ” (shokran) : Thank you
” متشكرة ” (metshakera) : Thank you
” جاري التنفيذ ” (gary al tanfeez) : Working on it
” علم و ينفذ ” (olim wa yonafaz) : Acknowledged

D.VA (Korean to English translation):
“게임시작” (geim si-jag!) – Game start!
“게임을 하면 이겨야지” (geim-eul hamyeon igyeoyaji) – If you play a game, you have to win
“APM좀 올려볼까!” (APM jom ollyo bolkka!) – Time to raise my APM!
“비상탈출” (bisang talchul) – Emergency escape
“짜증나 ” (jja jeung na) – That’s annoying
“안녕!” (annyeong!) – Hi!
“하! 이건 사기야!” (igeon sagiya!) – This is unreal / overpowered!
“다시 한번 해보자고!” (dashi hanbeon haebojago) – Let’s try that one more time
“다시 완벽하게 작동한다!” (dashi wanbyeokhage jakdonghanda!) – Operating perfectly again!
“아파!” (apa!) – It hurts!
“꺼져!” (ggeo-jyeo) – Turn off! / Fuck off!
“감사!” (gam Sa!) – Thanks!

Genji (Japanese to English translation):
“おす” (osu) – Greetings
“始め!” (hajime!) – Start!
“身を捨てても、名利は捨てず” (mi o sutete mo, myōri wa sutezu) – Even if I sacrifice my body, I will never sacrifice my honor (an ancient quote by famous swordsman Musashi Miyamoto)
“我が魂は均衡を求める” (waga tamashī wa kinkō o motomeru) – My soul seeks balance
“竜神の剣を喰らえ” (ryūjin no ken o kurae) – Taste the blade of the Dragon God
“水のように流れ” (mizu no yō ni nagare) – Flow like the water
“俺は風だ!” (ore wa kaze da) – I am the wind!
“燃えつけるかな” (moetsukeru kana) – I guess I’m on fire
“まだまだ” (mada mada) – Not good enough
“覚悟” (kakugo) – Prepare (to die)
“いざ尋常に勝負” (iza jinjō ni shōbu) – Let’s have a good match
“かまいたち” (kamai-tachi) – Whirlwind cut (this references a weasel-like apparition that carries a sharp sickle and rides on a dust devil )
“くそ” (kuso) – Damn / shit
“あほが” (aho ka) – Idiot / fool
“上等だ!” (joutou da) – Bring it on
“その程度か” (sono teido ka) – Is this the best you can do?
“我が魂は まだ燃えておる” (waga tamashī wa mada moete oru) – My soul is still burning
“防衛戦願おう” (bōei-sen negaou) – Let us hope for a different outcome
“我が心明鏡止水” (waga kokoro meikyōshisui) – My mind as bright and clean as the clear mirror of perfectly still water

Hanzo (Japanese, Phonetic spelling, and English translation):
“竜が我が敵を食らう” (ryuu ga waga teki wo kurau) – Dragon, consume my enemies
“狼よ我が敵を喰らえ” (Ōkami yo waga teki wo kurae) – Wolf, consume my enemies! (while wearing the legendary skin)

Mei (Chinese to English translation):
“这个世界值得我们奋战!” (zhè ge shè jiè zhí de wǒ men fèn zhàn) – This world is worth fighting for!
“冻住,不许走!” (dòng zhù, bù xu zǒu!) – Freeze, don’t move
“这样可以挡住他们” (zhè yàng kě yǐ dǎng zhù tā men) – This way they will be blocked
“冰墙,升起来吧!” (bīng qiáng, shēng qǐ lái bā!) – Rise, ice wall!
“”有本事,就過來!” (Yǒu běnshì, jiù guòlái) – If you’ve got the guts, come get me!
“瞧瞧这个” (qiáo qiáo zhè ge) – Check this out!
“嘿嘿来啦” (Hei hei lái la!) – Hey hey! I’m coming
“嚐嚐這個!” (Cháng cháng zhège) – Taste this!
“等等,别过来!” (děngděng! bié guòlai!) – Wait! Don’t come here!
“欺负人” (qīfu rén) – Why so mean? (literally: bully people)
“你好” (ni hao) – Hello
“谢谢” (xièxiè) – Thanks
“嘿,我又回来啦!(hei, wǒ yòu húilái la!) – Hey, I’m back again!
“忽如一夜春风来 千树万树梨花开” (Hu Ru Yi Ye Chun Feng Lai, Qian Shu Wan Shu Li Hua Kai) – It looks like the spring came over night and thousands of pear trees are blooming (based on a (song about a) traditional poem describing a snowy landscape)

Mercy (German translated into English):
“Helden sterben nicht” – Heroes never/don’t die
“Sprechstunde bei der Frau Doktor” – Consulting with miss doctor
“Mercy im Bereitschaftsdienst” – “Mercy on emergency duty
“Die Wunder der modernen Medizin!” – The wonders of modern medicine!
“Immer unterbricht mich jemand bei der Arbeit” – Someone always interrupts my work
“Auf einer Skala von eins bis zehn, wie fest tut es weh?” – On a scale of one to ten, how much does it hurt?
“Ich bin da!” – I’m there (for you)
“Ich kümmere mich um dich!” – I am taking care of you!
“Schaden verstärkt” – Damage amplified
“Heilstrahl aktiviert” – Healing stream activated
“Hat jemand einen Arzt gerufen?” – Did someone call a doctor?
“Verdammt” – Damn it (When getting a discord orb)
“Danke” – Thank you
“Verstanden” – Understood
“Ich brauche Hilfe” – I need help
Reinhardt (German):
“Wunderbar!” – Wonderful!
Torbjörn (literal English translations of Swedish sayings)
You’re making a chicken out of a feather – “Du gör en höna av en fjäder” (To greatly exaggerate)
With your beard stuck in the letterbox – “Fastna med skägget i brevlådan” (To be in a bad situation)
Buying the pig while it’s still in the bag – “Köpa grisen i säcken” (Impulsively purchasing something without checking the quality)

Widowmaker (French translation into English):
“Personne n’échappe à mon regard” – No one can escape from my sight
“ça pique, n’est-ce pas?” – It stings, doesn’t it?
“Allez, montre-toi” – Come on, show yourself
“Je te vois…” – I see you
“Magnifique” – Magnificent
“Encore?” – Again?
“Cherchez la femme” – Look for the woman
“Une balle, un mort” – One shot, One kill (lit. “one bullet, one death”)
“Et c’est comme ça” – And that’s how it is
“À la vie, à la mort” – To life, to death” or also “for better, for worse
“Merde!” – Shit!
“C’est la vie” – That’s life
“Dans ma ligne de mire” – In my line of sight
“Rendez-vous avec la mort ” – Appointment with death
“Tiens tiens!” – Well well, what do you know
“Le baiser de la veuve” – The widow’s kiss
“la veuve tisse sa toile” – The widow weaves her web

Zarya (Russian into English translation):
“Огонь по готовности” (ogon po gotovnosti) – Fire at will
“Вместе мы сила” (vmeste my sila) – Together we are strong
“привет” (preevyet) – Hello
“спасибо” (spasiba) – Thanks
“Физкульт привет!” (fizkult preevyet) – (Sport) hello!
“В гостях хорошо, а дома лучше!” (v gostiah horosho, a doma luchshe) – It’s good at the guest’s place, but home’s still better (Proverb similar to “east or west, home is best”)
“Видно мастера по работе” (vidno masteruh po ruhbotye) – “can see the master in his works”
“Без труда не вытащишь и рыбку из пруда” (bez trooduh nye vyitaschyish rybku iz prooduh) – “Need to work to pull a fish out of the pond”
Bastion (Robotic):
“Dun dun boop boop” – “Bloop bleep bleep bloop”
“Beeple” – Bee boo boo bop

Korean to English and English to Korean Translations not in the dictionary
June 14, 2016 by  
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Korean to English and English to Korean Translations not in the dictionaryHere are some updated translations of the words and phrases that are not found in the dictionary.   The world is changing fast but the dictionaries are not keeping up with the change. 

implied covenant of good faith and fair transaction, fiduciary duty 신의성실의 원칙, 수탁인의 의무

affirmative defense: complaint is barred 적극적 항변: 고소내용에 대한 방어
well-tolerated 내약성이 좋다 / 내약성이 우수하다
시무권사 Kwonsa in Service
시무장로 Ruling Elder
치리 governance
교회 제직회의 Church Officers Meeting
나도 모르게 감탄사가 절로 나왔다. I couldn’t help but gush in awe.
고양이 발걸음으로 살금살금 그 방을 빠져나온 것 뿐이었습니다. I merely tiptoed out of the room.
for good and valuable consideration 유효한 계약을 성립하기 위해
백세 시대 Centenarian Generation
과세전적부심사청구 Request for review of the legality before taxation
주문 statement of decision
fall-back argument 예비 논거
퍼주기식 지원 unconditional aid
회생절차  reorganization proceedings
언제부턴가 since some time ago
봉인가 easy target
비아냥 sarcasm
밀실논의 closed-door discussions / (optionally) discussions taken behind closed doors
follow up with your doctor 주치의의 도움
lean forward at the waste onto your elbows. 허리부터 상체를 앞으로 기울이고, 테이블 위에 팔꿈치를 얹어 상체를 지탱하세요.
근린생활시설 neighborhood living facility
상황이 연출되다  situation occurs that
biomarker testing 생체표지자 검사
저작자와 저작관리자 Author and authorship manager
relief 구제
저작권 위탁  entrustment of copyright
배임수재, 배임증재, 업무상 횡령  breach of trust by taking bribery, breach of trust by giving bribery, business-related embezzlement
알선수재죄 Influence Peddling
주문 Text of decision
in an index 주가지수에 따라
동반매도청구권, 동반매도 의무자  Tag-Along Rights, Majority Shareholder
적격상장 eligible listing
인수대상회사  Newly Acquired Company / Business OR Acquire OR target firm
age defying product 에이지 디파잉 제품 or 노화방지 제품
Sialylation 시알산화
yeast-expressed  이스트에서 발현시킨
variances 변형허가, 특례적용
좌주 동맥 혈관 재형성술 Left artery revascularization
주머니 돈이 쌈지돈 poor financial sense
활성대조 Active-Controlled
Prayer for relief 구제 소원
채권최고액 maximum pledge amount
out of order 규칙에 어긋난
action in equity 형평법 상의 소송행위
짜집기식 개선– patchwork improvement
체외진단용의약품  In vitro diagnostic product(s)
Korean LoL Progamers thriving after retirement
May 24, 2016 by  
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Korean LoL Progamers thriving after retirement

It is a thing of the past that `progamers retire before 30 years of age”  As ‘League of Legend(LoL) became very popular in Korea, many progamers are thriving in their job field.
eSports is taking roots as business, and diverse career paths are opening up for those who became progamers in their teens and 20’s.  They work as coaches for professional teams, participate in eSports broadcasting, or study and teach games at college.

2015년 독일 베를린에서 열린 롤드컵 결승전에서 관객들이 환호하고 있다. 한국팀끼리 뭍은 이날 결승전은 1만2000석 좌석이 매진됐다.
<LoL World Championship held in Berlin, Germany in 2015 where Korean teams competed against each other.  Korean team won the 2nd place in 2015.>

No-chul Chung, who was the progamer of LoL retired as player but returned as Coach in 2014.  His team won the 2nd place in 2015, and is currently in the 1st place, working toward the 2016 LoL Championship in the U.S. The 2016 World Championship starts with the Group Stage in San Francisco, before moving to the Quarterfinals in Chicago, and then onto the Semifinals in New York City. For the epic conclusion of Worlds 2016, they’ll return to the Staples Center in Los Angeles to crown the new World Champion.

Jung-kyun Kim, SK Telecom T1  coach was a progamer of ‘Starcraft2’.  Since 2012, he has been a coach for SK Telecom  T1 LoL Team.  His team won two times in 2013 and 2015.

Such LoL progamers as `Vinyl Cat` Woo-chul Chae, `Fumandu` Jung-hyun Lee, `Kain` Nuri Chang  continued their carrier as coaches of LoL Championship pro teams.

Foreign teams are sending love calls to the progamers and coaches.  Coach Yun-sup Choi for ‘TSM’ in North America, and Coach Min-sung Chung for ‘EDG’ in China, for example.

SK텔레콤 T1 선수들이 미국 로스엔젤레스 스테이플스센터에서 열린 2013 롤드컵 결승전에서 최종 우승한 뒤 트로피를 들어올리며 기뻐하고 있다.
<SK Telecom T1  gamers won the final trophy at 2013 LoL World Championship held at Staples Center, Los Angeles.>

Many former progamers are active in the broadcasting field.  Hosan Sun, Hojin Lee started individual broadcasting.
2014 e스포츠 페스티벌<eSports Festival in 2014>

According to ‘2015 survey on e-sports and analysis of economic effects”, the Korean e-sports industry size amounts to KRW 457.3-billion a year.  As Korean eSports industry has built its basis for nearly 20 years starting from StarCraft to LoL, it is expected that the status of the progamer job will be promoted, and there will be increasing job creation in the field.
CGV상영관에서 리그오브레전드 경기를 관람하는 사람들.

Jungang University in Seoul, Korea introduced a special admission for e-Sports talents from 2014, where LoL players such as Sang-myun Park, Chan-yong Kang, and Hyung-woo Kang and Sehyun Chung (FIFA Online3 Progamer) were admitted to the university.

Some American universities such as Robert Morris provides the same scholarship (up to 50% of tuition) as other Sports Department students to the gamers entering into the Department of eSports.

2015 e스포츠 대상을 수상한 SK T1 페이커 이상혁<Sang-hyuk Lee, awarded with 2015 eSports Grand Prize >
LA Translation provides Korean to English and English to Korean translation of games.
North Korea Kim Jong Un says he would make efforts for denuclearization
May 8, 2016 by  
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North Korea Kim Jong Un said at the 8th Worker’s Party Congress that he would make efforts for denuclearization and non-proliferation as a nuclear nation.  Click CC to see English subtitles provided by L.A. Translation and Interpretation, Inc.

KGMP interpreters
April 22, 2016 by  
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LA Translation Company has trained and provided medical certified interpreters for Korean FDA auditors who come to the U.S. to audit the U.S. company procedures against the Korean Good Manufacturing Practice so that their products can be qualified to be exported into Korea.

One major step for companies registering medium and high risk medical devices in South Korea is compliance with the Korea Good Manufacturing Practice (KGMP) quality system regulations. Similar to ISO 13485 quality system standards, KGMP is required by the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) for all Class II, III, and IV medical devices. The MFDS will verify KGMP compliance via onsite inspections, conducted either by its own staff or with the assistance of Third Party Auditor.

The Korean KGMP implementation and inspection process

KGMP certification must be secured before you can place any Class II, III and IV medical devices on the South Korean market. In order to obtain KGMP certification, you must submit documentation to an MFDS authorized third party auditor, demonstrating that your device complies with design, risk, technical and related KGMP quality system requirements.

Following submission of your KGMP certification application, your manufacturing site will likely undergo inspection by a qualified third party auditor and/or the MFDS depending on your device’s classification:

  • Sites for Class II devices are subject to third-party audits only; however the MFDS may request to be present
  • Sites for Class III and IV devices are subject to a combined audit by a third-party reviewer and the MFDS

Let LA Translation provide language services for your KGMP compliance project

L.A. Translation and Interpretation, Inc. was established in Los Angeles, CA in 2003 to provide language services to break down language barriers.  It has a school approved by the state government to train medical and court interpreters.

  • LA Translation has a special program to train certified medical interpreters for KGMP compliance audits.
  • Our Seoul office can interact efficiently and effectively with Korean regulators on your behalf.

Contact us at or 213-368-0700 to reserve an interpreter/translator.

Korean Translation – How to Choose the Best Korean Translator
January 1, 2016 by  
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According to a legend, the first Korean nation existed 5,000 years ago on the northern part of Korean peninsula.  Son of God came with other gods, and married a bear who turned into a woman after eating only garlic and green onion in the cave for 100 days.  Koreans have developed unique way of life for over 5,000 years.  And their language is a part of that culture and is very delicate and unique.

People say Japanese might be worst translators not only because it takes so much time as they have to type in from 64 Hiragana and also numerous Chinese characters when translating from English to Japanese, but also because the syntax of Japanese is so different from English.  Korean is more or less the same, although King Sejong who invented 24 characters of Korean seems to have saved many translators of today.

While native Korean people learn English from kindergarten these days, and are very good in translating English into Korean which they practice so much at school, most are not very good in translating Korean to English.   First because syntax is different.  Order of Korean words are just the opposite of English word.  There are expressions that don’t exist in the other language.  And since Korean culture is not directed toward saying honestly what is on your mind, sometimes you have read between the lines to catch what it really means.  To make the problem worse, some Korean legal documents are just too long to translate into English, sometimes one sentence being two pages long.

How to choose the best Korean translator?  A native American would have hard time understanding Korean language, although there could be a few exceptions of those who read Korean newspapers and watched Korean movies and dramas and talked with their parents in Korean most of the times.  A native Korean who has MA or above, who majored in literature or was employed at a job requiring much writing like journalist or professor, and who lived in U.S. for 5 years or more, going to school and employed as professional, who had more than 5 years of experience in translation, is my ideal candidate for Korean translation.  Otherwise, there would be a lot of misunderstanding of the original, adding and deleting some words and phrases, and unnatural writing style.  With such serious documents as legal and medical documents that have impact on human life and liberty, we cannot afford poor translation.

It is obvious that machine translation has not been able to catch up with human mind that lived in both cultures and mastered the delicate nuance of the language.

Contact our Korean Translation Service Division today for top quality Korean to English and English to Korean translation and interpreter services for your legal, medical, technical and corporate documents. We sure know who is the best for you!



통역사 자격증에 도전하세요.
August 3, 2015 by  
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“통역사는 21세기의 블루오션 직종이에요”  엘에이 동시통역대학원장 박준희 교수의 말이다.  통역사가 되는 것은 쉽지 않다.  한국에서 태어나 미국에서 공부를 했거나, 미국에서 태어나 한국어를 공부했거나, 상당히 오랜 기간 양 문화에 익숙해진 경험이 있어야 한다.  그러나 일단 그런 인생경험이 있다면, 다른 투자 필요없이  약간의 훈련을 받아 고소득을 창출하며 사람들을 도와주고 사회에 기여할 수 있다.

“향후 5년간 가장 수요가 성장할 직종이 통역사입니다.”  세계화와 FTA와 함께  많은 다국적기업들이 법정분규에 불가피하게 관여되고 전문적인 통역사를 필요로 한다.  특히 법정과 병원은 항상 통역사를 필요로 하는 곳이다.  “앞으로는 병원에서도 공인통역사만 통역할 수 있도록 법이 바뀔 거에요.”

“통역사는 변화 무쌍한 환경에서, 많은 것을 늘 새로 배우고 성장하는 매력있는 직업입니다.  보스도 없고, 경쟁자도 없는 편이고, 스트레스도 많지 않고,  전문성만 있으면 되는 편안한 직업이죠.”  서울대학교를 졸업한 박준희 원장은 평생의 반을 미국에서, 반을 한국에서 살면서 대학교수를 하다가  법정통역사가 된 후  엘에이동시통역대학원을 설립하여 후학의 양성에 힘써왔다.  “통역사가 되는 것이 어렵지는 않지만,  잘 하려면 피아노나 골프처럼 꾸준하게 연습하며 포기하지 않는 것이 중요합니다.”

“특히 의료통역사 자격증은  법정통역사만큼 어렵지 않고, 일도 쉬워서, 이중언어라면  꼭 도전해 보시도록 권장하고 싶습니다.”

A translation disaster in the making
March 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Articles

30 million Japanese to English translation

Tokyo Electron and Applied Materials are heading toward a merger.  They are still apparently in the process of demonstrating to governmental authorities that the merger will not reduce competition to the point of unfairness and/or demonstrating to their stockholders that they have done due diligence prior to the merger.  Why are we writing about this on a blog concerned with translation?  The ripples of these efforts have already been felt by translator providers, not only in the US, but also in far-off China and India.

Some entity (probably legal counsel for Applied Materials and/or Tokyo Electron) has purportedly ordered 30 million words of translation from Japanese into English, to be done in just three weeks, according to the brokers attempting to do the translation.  From comments heard by translators, the ordering entity has evidently gone to numerous translation brokers in efforts to get this work done.

A number of translation brokers have offered this work to some qualified Japanese-to-English translators at rates that would only be attractive to JA-to-EN translators in India, China, or perhaps Eastern Europe (USD 0.06 and USD 0.07 per word—take note, Applied Materials and/or Tokyo Electron).  Most of these translators seem to be wisely ignoring these comically low offers.

Going around and coming around.  As of March 16th, translators in the US have revealed that they have gotten inquiries from not only a huge translation broker in the US, but also from translation brokers in China (apparently three brokers), India, Italy, and Egypt that the US broker is apparently subcontracting to for the same merger project.  What connection do these subcontracting brokers have with Japanese/English translation? None, other than a desire to broker some of the work to desperate translators willing to work for very low rates.

Late breaking news:  A translator has now revealed that a China translation broker sent her files that are to be translated as part of this project–unsolicited.  So much for confidentiality.

The scenario that could explain this is obvious, but only if you understand the workings of the bulk translation market.  The ordering entity (probably a US law firm) gives the work (or a request-for-quote) to US translation brokers, which turn around and give the work to Chinese and Indian brokers (and, in this case, brokers in Italy and Egypt as well).  In addition to using their very cheap (and often not very good) translators, the Chinese and Indian brokers then, perhaps hoping that there are numerous translators in the US desperate enough to work with a Chinese or Indian broker, go to translators in the US with a ridiculously low rate.

It is time for a reality check on the part of numerous people involved in this comedy.  Doing 30 million words in three weeks, assuming each translator puts out 2500 words per day on average, would require 571 translators working every day for 21 days.  What this tells anybody in the translation business is that it will not be possible to use good translators, who are few in number and usually (because they are good) busy.  The solution to this problem (again, obvious to people in the industry) is to use bad translators, who are available and willing to work cheaply.  Translation brokers are very familiar with where to find bad-but-cheap translators; they are power users of such people.

What will likely happen.  Although the translation brokers claim to translators that they have 30 million words to translate in three weeks, it is utterly impossible for them to do that using qualified translators.  Only a tiny fraction will be given to qualified translators, who are already being offered USD 0.07 per word (again, please take note, Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron).  The overwhelming portion of this work will be done in China, India, or other Third World venues at much lower prices than USD 0.07 per word.  Unless they are reading this blog (and I hope they are), the end users (Applied Materials and/or Tokyo Electron and their counsel) will never know what hit them and why it hit them when they see the garbage sold to them as translation.

Medical and Cosmetic Surgery Tourism in South Korea
October 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles

Medical and Cosmetic Surgery Tourism in South Korea

Medical tourism is now a $40 billion market worldwide and is expanding at the rate of 25% per annum. For Californians, in recent years this has commonly been associated with patients traveling to Thailand, Singapore or India, where a range of treatment such as coronary artery bypass, orthopaedic surgery, rhinoplasty, face-lifts or gender reassignment surgery can be obtained with a saving from 65-90% on the cost of similar surgery back home. Many US patients take this option when they find that their medical insurance does not cover the procedure they require. South Korea has entered this market with the aim of becoming not only one of the major destinations for medical tourism, but to offer a service with government support that complies with internationally accepted standards of practice and care, and which is free from the negative associations often attached to medical tourism.

Rising numbers

According to South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, numbers of tourists visiting the country for cosmetic surgery has increased by 500% since 2009, with over fifteen thousand patients being treated over the last year; revenue from the entire medical tourism sector in 2012 amounted to $453 million, an increase of 300% over the same five year period. South Korean Plastic surgery trips cost an average of $14,000, which includes air fare, accommodation and airport pick-ups. Clinics provide a range of special services such as multi-lingual websites, email, video consultations and medical interpreters. Most clinics are situated in the affluent Seoul neighborhood of Gangnam, which this year opened a visitor center to help patients choose an accredited hospital. The government has taken measures to crack down on hospitals that work with unregistered tourist agencies, and the state-run Human Resources Development Service of Korea offers an examination for qualification as a specialized medical tour operator. The government is actively promoting the industry abroad with a target of creating 20,000 jobs over the next four years.

The Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) has been designated by the government to handle the majority of the promotional work for Korean medical tourism. From 2009, visitors coming to Korea for medical treatment have been able to take advantage of a special visa for a period of 3 months or a year. The KTO advises that patients obtain a written diagnosis and referral from their family doctor, which will provide invaluable information on all their medical needs to the doctors in Korea. Open communication between the patient, family doctor, medical coordinator and South Korean doctors is routine, and patients’ treatment records and aftercare recommendations are sent back to their family doctor. South Korea’s healthcare system is amongst the best in the world, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare works closely with healthcare providers to enforce public health and safety policies. South Korean hospitals are technically advanced in the use of both state-of-the-art clinical technology and management systems, and cutting edge medical procedures; they also maintain a broad approach to therapy that includes traditional eastern practices such as acupuncture and herbal treatments. Recent research by Ipsos puts South Korea’s healthcare system at the top of the league table in terms of improvement in service over the past five years.

Perfecting cosmetic surgery

In a 2011 poll by Seoul city government, 32% of respondents said they would be willing to undergo plastic surgery to improve their looks – a rise of 21.5% since 2009. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of procedures undertaken in 2011 numbered more than 13 for every 1,000 people, which is the highest rate for any country in the world. Hundreds of cosmetic surgery clinics cluster around the Gangnam subway stations in the so-called beauty belt, where Seoul’s reputation as the best place in the world for plastic surgery grows at a pace. Business has never been so good. Kim Byung, who owns BK Plastic Surgery, says that there is a staggering demand for plastic surgery among Koreans, who now flood into the area alongside increasing numbers of patients from around the world. He employs six surgeons and thirty interpreters, who speak – amongst other languages – Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and English. The international nature of the plastic surgery business and the importance of good communication mean that the presence of qualified and accredited specialist medical interpreters is paramount.

Medical interpreters

Patients must make their own decisions about treatment, and these need to be based on informed advice given by the doctor. This is the first principal of good medical practice that can break down when going abroad for procedures and patient and doctor do not properly understand each other. Approximations will not do. In the best of circumstances, doctors can have difficulty understanding a patient who is sick, injured or – in the case of consultations about cosmetic surgery – distressed about their problem or anxious about the surgical procedures. The particulars of a patient’s concerns and the doctor’s medical judgments must be equally clear to both as if they shared the same mother tongue.

Doctors should give advice only; there should be no coercion. The patient should be free to reject whatever he says, even if medically it might not be the best decision. Medical interpreters must reflect this not only in the content of their translations but in the tone of voice and manner with which they pass it on to the patient or doctor, who must both be as comfortable with the interpreter as with each other. The ideal consultation is an open and relaxed discussion of a problem where all participants feel at ease.

Looking to the future

KTO’s Medical Tourism Center’s Deputy Director Hyungtaek Lim said that South Korea’s expertise makes it more than capable of meeting the rising demand. ‘Korea has one of the most specialized industries in the world, with highly advanced technologies. In addition, doctors must undergo a rigorous eleven year training period before they are able to specialize.’ Korean doctors are revered for their skills, which result in shorter surgery and recovery times – ideal for patients who are on short-term visits. The quality of medical services and technology is a major reason why patients choose to come to South Korea.

LA Translation and Interpretation has a subsidiary company Korean Medical Travel Co., Inc. to provide 1-stop service for Medical and Cosmetic Tourism in South Korea.  We provide certified Korean medical interpreters and refer you to the top physicians in Korea as well as plan great trips.  For more info, call 1-866-327-1004.

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