Saturday, May 11, 2013

Professor Suh Ji-moon on Namdaemun (Sungryemun)

My friend Professor Suh Ji-moon (English Literature, Korea University) and I recently advised the Korean government's Cultural Heritage Administration -- part of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism -- on the English translation of the plaque that offers historical information on the restored Namdaemun (Great South Gate, aka Sungryemun, set ablaze by an arsonist in 2008), and she sent me some photographs with an email:
I'd put aside yesterday afternoon to go and see the restored Sungryemun and the plaque, and I did go, in spite of the rain -- which was not heavy, but enough to interfere with photo taking. There are two identical plaques on two sides of the gate plaza (if the small space can be called that) . . . . Before the fire, it never occurred to me to go near the gate to observe it at close range. I overheard, ´╗┐at the gate, people saying that before the fire, viewers were allowed to go up the stairs to see the gatehouse but that the house is closed to public now, becuase that's how the arsonist had access to the house and set fire . . . .

I guess the English part of the plaque couldn't be much better, given its basis on the Korean . . . . Anyway, thanks again for your kind help.
Such were her words about their work . . . and ours. Also, here are her photos:


Above are the gate and restored walls, and below are some of the decorations:


Below is the historical marker, or plaque:


If you click on the image, you'll be able to read the plaque's words, which Professor Moon translated and I edited -- except that the people who actually constructed the plaque changed our punctuation slightly and twice left out the essential space required before a parenthesis.

They may even have reworded a slight bit. I'm not sure . . .

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11 Comments:

At 12:46 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Yeah, that "no space before a parenthesis" convention is annoying, but in Korean, it's perfectly legitimate. It could be that, from a Korean perspective, inserting a space before a parenthesis looks strange, which is why it was changed back. Of course, it'd be nice if the punctuation conventions of each language were respected, but sometimes on ne peut pas tout avoir.

 
At 6:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

From my experience with Korean students, they don't even notice the space or lack of space. I've often experienced their inability to see a difference between a right and wrong example even when directly comparing the two!

I suspect those who made the plaque didn't even notice the space, but just automatically followed Korean conventions and left it out in retyping (or however they transferred the words to the marker).

I've talked with Ji-moon about the problem, so she knows what to emphasize if we're called on for future help.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You own apartment buildings and advise the Korean Gubmint?

I'll be there June 26th. My preferred color is green. I like plastic countertops and linoleum floors.

If your winters are anything like 1979 I'll be needing five cords. Appropriately split and stacked. I'm not too much for lawn furniture, chairs, beer table or lamps but if it's still required - two plastic flamingos - Green (so Kevin won't boil 'em up for something before I'm comfortable).

Oh. A hammock. Green.

Mind, nothing "shiny" green, just green in the hue that'll match the local fauna. The molds and mildews of Korea I'm told are pretty good in case Kevin comes by hungry.

You'll Jeff I trust get hopping arranging me an audience with your new President? I have some few suggestions about flowerbeds and landscaping up north. I'm not any Dennis Rodman but I'm pretty sure I can lose to Kim Jong Eun in every game of "Horse."

Mark your calendar - I'll be there pretty quick. Oh. My phone's disconnected but you have my address? And the people at the prison's front-desk assure me I have no zipcode.

JK - USA might get here before I get there - but my mail will be forwarded.

See you soon!

JK

 
At 10:09 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well . . . I don't yet have the sort of institutional power to help, but give me a few years.

I'd like to be more precise about the particular ministry of government we advised, but Ji-moon handled that aspect of things.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, I managed to find more specific details.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God you found out the details Jeff.

I'm in Bangkok - how soon'll you be picking me up?

Uhmm ... Cran'll maybe read this, he doesn't look at Post Office pictures does he? And, if he does, he'll be a bigger liar than I am?

JK

 
At 12:45 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

My surveillance of Uncle Cran is spotty, so I can't confirm that he frequents the post office.

But I've got you in my sights. Don't move a millimeter!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Charles said...

Very belated comment here. But I suppose you will eventually run across Kevin's mention of my critique of the translation. I'm not surprised to hear that the spaces were eliminated before the parentheses by the people in charge--somewhat dismayed that this happens so often, but not surprised. I'm curious, though, as to what else might have been changed before the sign went up.

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yeah, there were some changes that we didn't contribute to -- they also didn't let us expand a couple of points for clarity.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:38 PM, Anonymous Charles said...

That doesn't surprise me. Working on the informational panels for the 2002 makeover of Seoul was an exercise in frustration; I painstakingly translated hundred of these panels, only to get the proofs back with "corrections" made by civil servants who felt they had to do something, lest they be accused of not doing their jobs properly. And, of course, I had no input after that point, so I don't know why they even bothered showing me the proofs. Maybe just to rub it in my face? I was at first proud of my work, but when I saw the final product I decided not to tell anybody I had been involved. I don't think it ever appeared on any resume I put together.

 
At 8:54 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

If only we had sufficient time and complete control.

Jeffery Hodges

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