FAQs about Korean Translation

Can you provide a quote for Korean-to-English or English-to-Korean translation based on the number of pages?

Generally the cost of Korean translation cannot be determined based on the number of pages, because not all pages are the same. Pages come in all sizes (A4, letter, legal, etc.), and can contain any number of English words or Korean characters, or a combination thereof. A page may contain only the source language, or a mix of the source and target languages, or contain mostly figures, tables and numbers (which in most cases would be subject to an adjusted rate, up or down). In other words, pricing by page would neither be accurate nor practical. Pricing in the translation business is usually calculated based on a rate a per word (if English) or per character (if Korean) in the source document, which means that you are paying for the amount of actual work done by the translator. The per-word or per-character rate will be higher for documents of technical or legal complexity, and less for simpler content, which is why we always need to see the document to be translated, or a representative sample, to be able to provide an accurate quote. If we don’t know what the document looks like, and what it contains, we can only quote you a general range, say, 15-35 cents per word (or 8-18 cents per character), which is probably not very helpful. 

In some cases (e.g. translating a large compilation of documents of varying types, content, and complexity for discovery purposes in litigation), it may make more sense to set an hourly rate. We always try to be flexible, and work with our clients to  come up with a solution that makes sense.

If you don’t know how many words your document contains (often the case with scanned documents or hard copies), just attach the file to an e-mail, or fax it to us, and we’ll do the word count for you and provide our best quote.   > KOREAN TRANSLATION PRICING

What is the normal turnaround time for a Korean translation project?

Our standard non-rush turnaround time for English>Korean translation is 1 business day per 2,000 source words plus 1 business (administrative) day. For Korean>English translation, the non-rush turnaround time is 1 business day per 3,000 source characters plus 1 business day. > STANDARD KOREAN TRANSLATION RATES, GENERAL CONDITIONS

Our standard formula for calculating the normal turnaround time takes into account such factors as lead time, expected quality, and cost, and there are often tradeoffs involved in the combination of those factors. If a project must be turned around on a rush basis, a rush fee of 15%-100% will apply, if we are able to accommodate the rush schedule.  

Translation is a human endeavor (as far as we’re concerned), and  there are physical limits to what is humanly possible when it comes to the volume of high-quality translation that can be produced within a given time period. That said, we can assign a team of 2 or more translators to work together on a project to shorten the turnaround time, if appropriate. Clients should keep in mind that using multiple translators over a shorter timeframe can mean compromises in the consistency of the final product. 

Do you use computer or machine translation?

No. Machine translation has come a long way, but as of 2021, the quality of translation between Korean and English is rudimentary at best. People, as imperfect as they are, still perform written language translation far better than any machine equipped with artificial intelligence.

We may occasionally use translation memory software for our translators when working on a large number of documents involving a lot of repetitive content, both to speed up the translating process and to help maintain consistency across documents and translators, but this is entirely different from machine translation.

Machine translation would be an irresponsible solution in any situation where accuracy is at a premium. For a machine-produced translation to be worthy of our certificate of accuracy, our translators and editors would need to go over each and every word to make extensive corrections. Such a process would almost always end up costing as much time and money as our usual human translation process.

To quote a translation industry expert on this topic: “At its very best, machine translation is good enough if all you want is to get the gist of someone else’s message — say, to basically decipher a foreign website. But if it’s your message you are having translated to communicate what you have to say to people in another language and culture, keep the translation software as far away from it as you can.”

Someday machines may produce English to Korean and Korean to English translations that are truly comparable to the work that our professional translators are capable of. But that day has not yet come.

Why does translation cost so much? All you do is rewrite what's already there...

First of all, translation is much more than just transcribing what’s already on the page, or simply replacing all the words there into words of another language.  That’s pretty much what mechanical translation does, and why it produces work of such comically poor quality.  There are matters of precise meaning, tone, style, syntax, idiomatic phrases and expressions, culture, and technical language and jargon that must be taken into account.  It takes someone with experience in close reading and writing in both languages to deal with these things properly.  This is especially true when one is working with languages as different from one another as Korean and English.

The Korean language has no articles, no plurals, the subjects are often left out of sentences, and the syntax is entirely opposite to English, with the verbs and their modifiers coming at the end of the sentence; amongst many other differences.  Words or concepts in one language may not have an equivalent in the other language, which often makes it necessary to restructure or rewrite whole sentences to fully describe all of their connotations. A translator has to deal with all of these issues while still trying to preserve the meaning, tone, style, and content of the original.

It’s a tricky and labor-intensive business, which is why it really takes a professional to do it well, and why it costs money to have it done right.  At KTG we keep our prices down by specializing solely in the Korean and English languages.  In fact, we do better work than the large multi-language houses at a lower price.

Do you have translation specialists in my field?

Yes and no — no matter what your field is.  For example, if we are talking about derivative financial products, yes, we have people who have a strong finance background and an MBA, or, if the subject is metallurgy, we have people with degrees in science or engineering, all of whom have the resources and research capabilities to augment their knowledge and handle projects in those areas.  But no, people who have written doctoral dissertations on creative financial products or aluminum alloys generally do not choose translation as their profession.

There aren’t very many translators who work exclusively in one narrowly specialized field.  Most of our translators, however, have several fields in which they are experienced and fully capable, and in which they have a good grasp of the content and terminology involved.  All of our translators have been previously employed in a different field of some sort, and some even hold advanced professional degrees.  This is why coming to a professional specialized agency like ours really makes sense — we know our translators and have a very good idea of their capabilities because we literally speak the same languages they do.

So, JCC won’t have a history student who doesn’t even own a car translating your automotive service manual, simply because he’s fluent in another language — as happened with a friend of ours at a major language service firm.  We will choose the best person available for your project, and then proofread and check his/her work before we send it out to you.

What is the best format in which to submit our documents for translation?

The very best way to send your translation material to us is in the form of an electronic file (MS Word preferred) attached to an e-mail message, to services@koreantranslation.com.  A clear, clean copy of the documents may also be faxed to us at: (646) 412-5595 (‘fine’ mode preferred, especially for documents in Korean), or can be mailed, overnighted, or otherwise delivered to us at the address on our contact page.

Remember that we cannot give you an estimate of the final cost of your project until we have the documents (or a representative sample) in our hands, and we will not proceed with the translation until we have your signed acceptance of our estimate.  For further information on the translation procedure see our translation page.

Questions about our Korean language services?

Please reach out to us by phone or email with any questions or concerns.

I so appreciate your help in enabling me to advance my work. My presentations would never have been so meaningful to the participants had I not had your translations to give them.

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Barbara U. Jones, Ph.D.

If you have further questions, please contact us.