[KS] Competing Translations

Brother Anthony ansonjae at sogang.ac.kr
Wed Jul 9 02:56:12 EDT 2008

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While I agree that different translations can offer different readings of a text and therefore permit a better insight if reading the original is not an option, most of us are not into that level of refinement, even if we had the time, and would happily make do with one reasonably good translation. Koreans, of course, have it made with the 160 translations of 'Hamlet' they have available. 
Besides, it is hard enough to find a publisher for a first translation, let alone for a retranslation (and we will not go into the issue of 'exclusive rights' which certain translators demand, not me). With the many hundreds of English translations of Korean fiction and poetry already published, there is less of a problem, we know or can find out what exists, and a whole lot of it would certainly deserve a better, more accurate translation, but we are now at a time when publishers and agencies (KLTI for example) are all the time asking us to translate texts by younger writers 'by next week', and it is really frustrating for everyone if one person has spent weeks / months translating a piece because they like it, only to see another person's translation published somewhere because no one knew that their translation was under way. There are not enough of us to go around as it is, and therefore I think we can talk of wasting time. 
In addition, at last foreign publishers are starting to choose Korean works they want to have translated on the basis of information from Korean publishers, KLTI, or writers' agents. Those foreign publishers have no idea who might already be translating such a work, or interested in doing it and capable of doing it. Where should they turn for reasonably reliable information? A good question, indeed!
Brother Anthony
Sogang University, Seoul

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