Why Are Korean Sites So Wrong?

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Recently Korea has dealt with the suicide of SHINee’s Jonghyun, which sparked sadness from many all over the world.  When reporting on his death, one news agency called his suicide note his will.  Then a few days later, articles were posted regarding EXO’s Baekhyun being quoted as saying that he didn’t understand why people suffer from depression and insomnia.  This drew outrage from people worldwide who felt it was insensitive given the timing and the fact that EXO is on the same label as SHINee.  Later, it was discovered that what he said in full was different and that part of what he actually said wasn’t put in the viral quote.  Why do mistakes like this happen so frequently in Korean media?  Is there a solution to this issue so that accurate news is put out the first time?

Issue 1:  The Need To Be First

We live in a 24 hour news cycle globally.  Being the first to report something can result in a lot of exposure, and a lot of money as well.  This rush to be the first place to report something leads to inaccurate information spreading faster than the truth in many cases.  Sadly, when the truth does come out, some do not recant their inaccurate remarks, nor do they offer to apologize for what they have said and the damage it has caused.

Solution

Instead of wanting to be known as the place to go for the latest breaking news, it would be better for some sites and channels to focus on being a place to go for accurate news.  In a number of cases, not just in Korea but globally, the first story isn’t the most accurate story.  Sometimes waiting a couple of hours will cause the story that is being published to be more accurate than the first story that was going to be put out.  Being an accurate source for new may make it easier for people that you will want to interview in the future to work with you as well.

Issue 2: Use of Translation Software

In my time learning Korean, there are a number of times where I needed to translate a message quickly so that I can act according to the instructions contained in the message.  While translation software is a fast way to get a message from Korean to English and vise versa, it is usually not accurate.  (I would need a ton of money in cash to tell you why this is and how to fix it.)  Translation programs and sites often show the one meaning, where as something else is used in modern vernacular.  An example would be the word 형제.  This Korean term when used in the plural form is translated by some software programs and sites as brethren.  But in modern English, it is used as brothers since most people don’t use the term brethren anymore.

Solution 

While it would take longer, which would not be a bad thing, using a human to translate things would be the most accurate solution.  In the example given above, a human would be less likely to post something saying brethren and confusing an English reader.  A human would be more likely to put a more accurate meaning behind what the original expression is that a program or website ever could.  Then again, this is assuming that you don’t have the final issue that I’ll mention today.

Issue 3: People Who Do Not Fully Understand the English Language

I have spoken about this before, and this may be a prime example of this being true now.  There is a great need for native English speakers to work in South Korea to help with English language jobs.  However, the process can be long, confusing and expensive for companies in Korea.  This is done on purpose so that companies will, hopefully, only hire Koreans who speak some English for these jobs.  However, often times the employees that are hired don’t properly understand English, and it has been reported that some English teachers in Korea do not properly understand English.

Solution

Korea needs to stop insisting that they don’t need help when it comes to doing English language jobs and it needs to be easier and cheaper for companies to get qualified professionals to work for them in Korea.   While Korea values education, it must be realized that many who graduate college in this LOL, SMH, LMBO world do not communicate in proper English either.  Korea cannot afford to be “degree struck” (meaning so caught in the fact that someone got a degree from a big college that they automatically assume that the person is qualified without checking out their actual skill set) and bring in people who really didn’t learn much in college other than how to party.  There needs to be some kind of track record of their language skills, as well as a proper understanding of Korean culture if someone is to brought over to Korea to work.  This would probably prove to be the fastest and most permanent way to fix this issue.

It was sad to see how many people around the world bashed Baekhyun when he was misquoted, and in this time I’ve only seen one apology given to him.  That was from Hallyu Back.  I hope in time that more accurate news will come out first, instead of a rush to be first so that we don’t have more incidents of people putting out hurtful information.  I also hope that if something was put out that was wrong, more platforms will apologize and work to correct the situation.  But in the end, I hope that more is done so that Korean news and websites get it all right, instead of getting so much wrong.