It is very important to understand how your message will be interpreted in your host culture. There have been many instances where an American company has tried to translate their slogan to a different language and the result was unsuccessful. For example when Pepsi entered the Chinese market a few years ago, the translation of their slogan “Pepsi Brings you Back to Life” was a little more literal than they intended. In Chinese, the slogan meant, “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave”.
I shared some of these instances where translations were not very clear with my partner Laura but she could not think of a similar situation where this happened in South Korea. I didn’t find this surprising because I didn’t even know that some of these transitional problems occurred until we spoke about them in class. It is important to know how things will be translated because according to Zaharna “language or ‘mistranslations’ are the most frequently cited examples from failed international projects.”
I asked Laura what a popular sport in Korea is and she said taekwondo. After doing some more research I found out that there are two main branches of taekwondo development, although they are not mutually exclusive.
“Traditional taekwondo typically refers to the martial art as it was established in the 1950s and 1960s in the South Korean military, and in various civilian organisations, including schools and universities. In particular, the names and symbolism of the traditional patterns often refer to elements of Korean history, culture and religious philosophy. Traditional Taekwon-Do may refer to International Taekwon-Do Federation.”
“Sport taekwondo has developed in the decades since the 1950s and may have a somewhat different focus, especially in terms of its emphasis on speed and competition (as in Olympic sparring). Sport taekwondo is in turn subdivided into two main styles. One style is practiced by International Taekwon-Do adherents and was created in 1955 by Choi Hong Hi. The other style derives from Kukkiwon, the source of the sparring system sihap gyeorugi. This style is now an event at the summer Olympic Games and is governed by theWorld Taekwondo Federation (WTF). The Kukkiwon – or World Taekwondo Headquarters – is the traditional center for WTF taekwondo and was founded in 1973 by Dr. Kim Un Yong.”
I found it interesting that there can be so much variation in one sport within one country. I think many people could find this very confusing when trying to talk about it to different cultures.