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SEOUL — South Korean legal officials acknowledged that the English translation system for U.S. troops in local courts has flaws, but they’re working to fix many of the issues.

“We are currently trying hard to select simultaneous interpreters who are … proven capable of carrying out the court trial proceedings translation,” said an official with the Criminal Judicial Policy Division of the Supreme Court of Korea who declined to provide his name.

The translation problem isn’t limited to Americans, he said. People from many different countries wind up in court in South Korea and officials are struggling to find them qualified translators.

The problem isn’t as acute in Seoul — home to about 20 percent of the country’s population, but the official acknowledged that it’s much more difficult to find translators in outlying areas like Uijeongbu.

As to pay, “we are reviewing the matter right now,” he said.

Translators in Seoul are paid 70,000 won — about $75 — for the first 30 minutes in court with an additional 50,000 — about $54 — for each additional 30 minutes.

While they don’t consider it a low salary, “we are considering raising the pay,” the official said.

The official also said there isn’t a regulation that sets standards for hire, but that they plan to review that idea.


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