Saturday, April 25, 2015

Merging the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea and the Literature Translation Institute of Korea?

Kim Hoo-ran writes in her article "Market principle, culture don't mix" (Korea Herald, April 23, 2015) on an issue "of grave concern":
[T]he Ministry of Strategy and Finance is considering the merger of the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea and the Literature Translation Institute of Korea as part of its effort to promote efficiency in government-funded organizations.
This doesn't sound good for my wife and me since we translate on grants from the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, but like Ms. Kim, I'm conflicted:
As a taxpayer, I appreciate the government's attempt to reduce wasteful spending. However, what constitutes "wasteful spending" is debatable when it comes to cultural endeavors as results are not always immediate and not always tangible.
True enough, but I think we need a stronger argument than "not always tangible." Maybe this:
Training professional translators is a . . . key function of LTI Korea. The institute's Translation Academy is the boot camp for foreigners learning to translate Korean literature into their respective languages. Currently there are fewer than 20 professional translators working from Korean to their native languages. Even in English, there are less than a handful of professional translators . . . . Translators are not created overnight. They normally devote a year or two to practicing their craft and . . . only after three years or so . . . are [they] considered to have acquired the necessary skills . . . [to] debut as a translator. LTI Korea has sown the seeds with its Translation Academy, but needs to continue to nurture the translators by providing them with work since there is yet little commercial demand for Korean literature in translation. A long-time translator of Korean poems warned that without the institute, the number of translated Korean literature works published globally would drop to almost zero.
That's more of an argument, I suggest, but what do this blog's readers think?



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