[Letters] You get the English you pay for
Regarding the blogosphere article “Ads bringing out the Engrish in a big way” on Nov. 3: I think I know why the Korea Tourism Organization allows such lousy English to emanate from its headquarters; basically, they get what they pay for. Recently, the KTO opened a position for an English editor, and guess what the salary is: 3 million won ($2,600) per month! Let’s put that in perspective; 160 hours a month at that salary works out to 18,750 won an hour, which is less than half the hourly rate almost any native speaker can get from teaching private English lessons. Three million a month is less than what most Korean universities offer English instructors for a standard 12-hour teaching contract with 20 weeks off a year. Not only that, but all of the big Korean securities companies and law firms start their English editors at around 5 million won per month, which should be considered “the going rate,” but it appears the KTO cares far less about its English output than private-sector companies.
What makes all of this so sad is the huge advertising budget the KTO has, which is obvious if you watch CNN International, and you figure that for the price of airing one or two of those ads the KTO could pay a competitive annual salary for top editorial talent. Instead, they low-ball their editors and produce content that becomes fodder for Engrish.com and Jay Leno’s “Headlines” segment.
I realize Lee Charm must be really busy with his new position (as KTO president), but you’d think he would care more about the English material that goes out of his organization - which is basically how the world gets its first impression of Korea - and compete for better talent.
Kris DeVaar, Seoul
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