LOL.. The Translator Experimented with Lee Oisoo’s Work


At times he gets very clever with word-play. An extra-challenge for a translator, which I took up when I was in school, just to see if I can wing it. After I finished a number of pages, I sent the author a sample of my translation. He responded that he asked his website webmaster to include me in his forum if I want to. I never replied to it.

Here’s the same sample for those who would like to read it:

이외수의 [괴물] 중에서…

담임이 녀석에게 자기소개를 한번 해보라고 말하면서 교단을 내려서고 있었다. 녀석은 조금도 망설이는 기색을 보이지 않았다. 녀석은 서툴고 어색한 한국말로 자신을 소개하기 시작했다. 물론 억양도 발음도 엉망이었다. 우리는 목구멍 가득 대포알로 장전되어 있던 웃음 때문에 수시로 담임의 눈치를 살피고 있었다. 어색한 억양과 발음이 돌출될 때마다 대포알처럼 장전되어 있던 웃음이 자동발사를 재촉하고 있었다. 감내하기 힘든 고충이었다. 하지만 녀석이 ‘선생님과 친구들’을 ‘생선님과 친구털’이라고 잘못 발음했을 때는 더 이상 웃음을 참아낼 재간이 없었다.
“미치겠다. 생선님이래.”
“친구털은 더 죽인다.”
교실은 난사되는 웃음소리 때문에 순식간에 아수라장이 되고 말았다. 이마로 책상을 연거푸 박아대며 웃음을 폭발시키는 아이들도 있었고 두 발로 번갈이 교실 바닥을 두드리며 웃음을 폭발시키는 아이들도 있었다. 웃음은 좀처럼 진압될 기세가 아니었다.
“조용히들 못 하겠냐.”
담임의 습관성복무증후군이 악화되고 있었다. 우리는 잘 알고 있었다. 담임의 습관성복무증후군이 악화되면 공포의 피티체조로 발전하게 된다는 사실을. 우리는 순식간에 웃음을 봉쇄시켜 버렸다.
잠시 교실에는 싸늘한 침묵이 흐르고 있었다. 그때였다. 녀석이 무슨 말인가를 영어로 떠벌리기 시작했다.

Stepping away from the podium, our class teacher had the dude introduce himself. And the dude showed no hesitation. He began introducing himself right away in broken Korean. His Korean was awkward and crude at best—his intonation and enunciation was a big mess. Missiles of laughter were loading in our throats, ready to be fired. Still, we knew better to pay attention to our teacher’s facial expressions first. Although the dude’s incessant self-introduction was only begging for the missiles to launch, the control tower was firm—“CAUTION, or you will get it!” It was almost inhumane to keep the laughter in. When the dude mispronounced “teacher” and “friends” as tits-cher and prenz in one breath, however, we lost the control and the missiles flew out of the silo.
“Oh my god! Did he just say TITS?”
“You got that right! We ARE your prenz!”
The classroom instantly became an inferno and the missiles of laughter were now engaged in an automatic cross-firing mode among us. Some of the students were banging their heads against the desk while laughing. Others were stamping their feet on the floor while shedding tears from laughing too much.
“Everyone BE QUIET!”
The teacher’s C-PMS-S, or Chronic Post-Military Service Syndrome, began to show on his face. We knew so well that once his C-PMS-S becomes activated, the dreaded boot camp physical training would fall on all of us. We froze in mid-laugh, chuckles hanging on mouths agape and fear dangling on tearful eyesl.
A frozen silence spread over the class for a while. Then the dude started shooting off words in English.

4 thoughts on “LOL.. The Translator Experimented with Lee Oisoo’s Work

  1. I like the way the translator tries to deal with some of the mispronunciations and wordplay in the original text. . . but perhaps off topic, as a second-language speaker of Korean myself, I found myself sympathizing with the guy in front of the class. Honestly, what kind of jerk do you have to be to ridicule someone who’s doing their best with another language? Obviously these students had never tried to speak in English before. Makes me curious about the context of this passage.


  2. Hi,
    you have a flair for translation, obviously.
    I am running an agency translating Korean into English, among other language pairs.
    I am looking for a good talent like yours.
    Can you help me?
    Please email to me:

    thanks // alex

  3. Pingback: Interesting article on Lee Oisoo and HOW he stays popular

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