Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Koguma - Korean Yam 5

They were bits and pieces kept inside me for years that suddenly flew me back to those days when I was once a kid. What could that be?

It could be the bitter cold weather which was in stark contrast with achingly hot kogumas. Or it could be those guys usually old enough to be my dad armoured with jacket, muffler, gloves, took, and you name it. Or it could be the cracking fire inside the cooker (drum) I couldn’t take my eyes off for some reason. Or maybe it was the atmosphere of the people in a cozy warm house whom I got to share kogumas with: they were usually family members or someone I was very close to. Or it is, very likely, all of the above combined. (I'll tell you shortly why I mention these things in this blog. After all, I translate English to Korean professionally. Bear with me, I'll talk about this in upcoming posts.)

I don’t really know, but it is surely not something negative. It does feel good, and I appreciate this unexpected outcome.

I offer help for English to Korean translation.

Koguma - Korean Yam 4

As you can tell from the pictures, baked kogumas on the street are only found during the winter. As I said in the previous posts, the scene has been a part of our culture for the last few decades. I left Korea ten years ago, but as I was writing these posts and looking at the pictures, I was certainly reminded of something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It was not as intense as the time I found a stack of old journals that I kept twenty plus years ago. I just found a new place to move and was in the middle of packing up my stuff, but I had to stop. I sat down on the spot, and lost track of time.

Yeah, it wasn’t like that kind of magnitude, but there was surely something that was stirred in me when I got to reminisce about koguma.

Wonder why I talk about these things, in a translation blog? They are all related to translation in some respect. I'm a Korean translator and translation Korean to English is what I do.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Koguma - Korean Yam 3

Oh, hey. I was able to track down a picture that tells what was actually burning inside! So it was simply pieces of woods, huh? Now, that kind of makes sense because what else would they use while on the street like that? Coal, no. Gas, of course not. For this kind of setting with that kind of equipment, wood must have been thought out to begin with. It’s cheap, easy to get, easy to carry, and easy to burn.

I noticed something, though. When I look at this picture now, it strikes me how dangerous it is to have the whole thing exposed out in the open. I said in the previous post that he wouldn’t let anyone come near but, well, that’s not enough, isn’t it? While a mom is paying for a bag of koguma, a 4-year old son full of curious and adventurous mind would reach out to the magic box that spits out a fab delicacy with the merchant completely preoccupied. Well, of course mom would be extra cautious in such situation, but, you know.

Koguma - Korean Yam 2

So what does the cooker look like? You can have a general idea from the picture. The main body is basically a big steel drum. The body usually lies on a cart that makes it easy to carry. On one of the flat sides of the body are a few holes, and each holds a single koguma. It’s like a drawer with handles that you can pull in and out. Everything is made out of steel for maximum heat conduction and not to mention extremely hot. He would not let you get any nearer, but you wouldn’t even think of it anyway. I never cared to ask or observe what kind of material was burned inside the body. I imagine the whole thing is simply a hollow drum and except for the drawers the empty space must have been filled with whatever the material was to burn.
I’m a Korean……….

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Koguma - Korean Yam

Or I should call it sweet potato. It’s certainly different from yam. It’s one of the most popular vegetables in Korea. When I was young, about twenty years ago, I would often run into people in the street selling sweet potato freshly baked out of the cooker they stand next to. The cooker made of a steel drum is about the size of a small refrigerator. It’s hooked on to a cart for mobility, and looked quite primitive in today’s standard, but it served its purpose. Now, sweet potato sold in this way is literally ‘baked.’ I don’t know what they used to bake with whether wood or coal, but I know koguma out of that cooker was burning hot. Of course, it should be obvious now that baked koguma in the street is only found during the winter. It’s very cheap as often is the case for street vendors, but it was very popular, so much so that it has been a part of our culture.

I sometimes translate Korean to English. Or click if you need professional help on Korean translation.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Improving as a writer 5

If you’re a veteran translator, I doubt you would find anything useful in my blog. Oh, no. I doubt that you would even bother to read anything here to start with. Haha.  But if you’re a novice in translation, then mark my word: read before attempt writing. Read and read. Read to learn the flow of writing. What makes your writing smooth can mostly learned from reading others’ writings, and especially good ones. So try to locate writings of your interest written by authors who are experienced in story-telling. Novels are good ones. Published articles from credible magazines are another. Well, there’s such an ample store of resources you can go for in this internet age. The point of it all is, again and again, to familiarize yourself with basics, which is to make your writing sound natural. Now, what is my obsession with this ‘sounding natural?’ How silly it is to keep on mentioning such a thing, right? Who would attempt to get on the translation business if he can't write properly?
Well, some would.

For here's more about Korean English translation.
Or for more about Korean translatioon.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Improving as a writer 4

How can we achieve, then, to write natural? I certainly do not have a model answer but I sure can offer my piece of understanding. You should read a lot, and write a lot. Like everything else, millennium old principle applies here with no exception: practice makes perfect. You should get yourself familiar with what you want to master. I’m sorry to end the whole thing with such a boring conclusion, but I can’t come up with a better one. See as many different sentence structures as you could and teach yourself with variety. Write down the ones that impress you most and consume them. Do your best to keep them in store so that when you need them, they will be at your disposal. Pile up your vocabulary, but never without context. Blind memorization of list of words is just silly. You should know when and how to use them, so when you run into a new word, you should pay an equal amount of focus to the sentence the word is coming from and not just the meaning of the word.

I work on business card English Korean translation, too.
Or here's more about english-korean translator.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Improving as a writer 3

In conclusion, it is fundamental to make your writing sound natural. Yes, it all boils down to that simple rule. I certainly agree that there are more to writing than that, but at least for translation it is crucial. You cannot afford to write awkward. You should not let readers be able to tell ‘ah, this is translated and not original.’ Simply put, translation is at its highest level to make yourself invisible. That is really what every translator must strive for. The less readers are concerned about the translator or translation, the better. In other words, when your work goes unnoticed, you can be assured that you did a fab job. Ironic, but true. This, however, is not easy. It’s very difficult and that’s why not many can get there so easily. And not to mention, when you’re doing translation, your expertise must be translating TO your first language and not FROM your first language.

For more help on Korean to English translation visit:

We also offer certified translation.