Translation errors in FTA embarrass trade minister

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Translation errors in FTA embarrass trade minister

Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon, who once again admitted that there were errors in the Korean translation of the free trade agreement between Korea and the European Union, said stronger measures will be taken so that such mistakes do not occur again.

Kim held a press meeting yesterday after lawyer Song Ki-ho found additional errors in the agreement, even after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade made corrections of the first set of errors that were found.

Kim said that such errors will not occur in the FTA with the United States as he has ordered a brand-new proofreading of the Korus FTA.

“I’m naturally not good with making excuses. What is wrong is wrong and errors must be corrected, and we are in that process,” said Kim.

“I have some measures in mind that include making a proper team that does the job within the ministry instead of running temporary task force teams, asking for the help of professionals outside the ministry even if it means more costs for us, and having a grace period and revealing the first version of the translation as an unofficial version before everything is thoroughly checked.”

For the “unofficial version,” Kim said that everything until now was based on the English version and the employees at the ministry have always been rushed to release the Korea version as FTA deals are in the interest of many people.

He said that the same speed will be kept, but with a one-month grace period, the first version will be released as an unofficial translation and efforts will then be made to ensure everything is errorless before declaring the translation official.

“The localization process of the FTA agreement needs to be redone, as the Korean version is what all the companies refer to when doing business abroad,” said Song in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo. “I provide legal service to trading companies and found that the translations were wrong when I found strange clauses, which can affect a company’s plans.”

Kim said that all of the errors were in the many tables that take up more than 700 pages of the 1,279 pages, and such errors were simple clerical errors, which anyone could have made.

He added, though, that the ministry is trying to find out who made the mistakes and whoever made the errors will be reprimanded.

Kim said that although both the U.S. and EU agreements are important, the Korea-EU FTA is more urgent, because of the July 1 deadline.


By Jung Seung-hyun [seungjung@joongang.co.kr]


Related Korean Article[경향신문]

김종훈 “한·EU FTA 협정문 오역은 실무적 실수”

“대책 마련·관련 직원 문책”…국회 비준은 4월로 연기

외교통상부는 최근 잇따라 지적된 한국·유럽연합(EU) 자유무역협정(FTA) 번역 오류를 피하기 위한 대책을 마련하고 관련 직원을 문책하기로 했다.

김종훈 통상교섭본부장은 8일 기자간담회를 열고 “번역 실수에 대해 죄송스럽게 생각한다”며 “실수한 직원을 찾기 위해 내부조사를 시작했고 확인되면 문책을 염두에 두고 있다”고 밝혔다. 통상교섭본부는 또 번역 오류를 피하기 위해 △번역담당 상설기구 마련 △외주 용역 △비공식 번역본 공개 뒤 최종 번역본 확정 등 세 가지 시스템 개선책을 마련할 계획이다.

김 본부장은 하지만 “실수를 눈 감고 넘어가자는 것은 아니지만 이번에 확인된 번역 오류는 ‘실무적인 실수’에 가깝다”며 “실수는 이미 고쳐졌고 분쟁으로 갈 정도는 아니었다”고 말했다. 이에 대해 처음 번역 오류를 지적한 송기호 변호사는 “원산지 판정 기준, ‘may not’의 번역 오류 등은 실무적인 실수가 아니라 구조적이고 본질적인 결함”이라며 “이번 오류는 국내 기업, 시민 등이 활용할 한글본을 정부가 얼마나 경시하는지 보여주고 있다”고 말했다.

국회 외교통상통일위는 이날 비준 동의안 처리를 오는 4월 임시국회로 연기했다. 여야는 외통위 법안심사소위를 열어 한·EU FTA 비준동의안의 번역 오류에 대한 추가 확인 절차를 거쳐 4월 임시국회에서 처리키로 했다. 한나라당 외통위 간사인 유기준 의원은 “이번 회기에는 처리하지 않고 4월 중순까지 상임위에서 처리하기로 야당과 합의했다”고 밝혔다.


정부는 잇따라 지적된 오류에 대해 “일부는 문제가 없고, 오류로 인정되는 두 가지 부분은 바로 EU 측과 서신교환을 통해 정정하기로 합의했다”고 외통위에 보고했다. 민주당 간사인 김동철 의원은 “일단 4월 국회에서 다시 논의하기로 했다”며 “현행 한·EU 비준안을 철회하고, 번역 오류를 시정해서 국무회의 거쳐 다시 제출하라”고 요구했다.

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