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Migration and Community Interpreting in Korea

Ji-Hae Kang 1

1아주대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper explores the role of the state in the development of community interpreting in Korea. By analyzing the government's policy briefs and documents pertaining to immigration and interpreting for immigrants, the present study analyzes the positioning of community interpreting within the larger frame of multicultural and immigration policy and discourse. As the main player in the production and enforcement of norms for community interpreting, the state critically influences not only people's perceptions of community interpreting but also the quality of interpreting services and immigrants' access to these services. The present paper draws on the work of Ozolins (1998) regarding the different ways in which countries respond to interpreting needs and argues that Korea is in a transitional stage, moving from an “ad hoc services” stage to a “generic language services” and “legalistic approach” stage. An analysis of the “First Basic Plan for Immigration Policy” and other policy documents suggests that community interpreting is represented by the state as a practical and symbolic solution to many of the language problems that have arisen in recent years in relation to the increase in the number of immigrants in Korea. While obvious inter-institutional differences are found, the Korean government in general has made some achievements in giving prominence to community interpreting in recent years by making recommendations and drawing up policies on interpreting. However, a lack of awareness of the importance of accreditation, registration, or training systems, all of which have no clear place within the policy documents, and a heavy dependence on volunteer interpreters and on a telephone interpreting system raise serious concerns regarding the current policies and the state of community interpreting in Korea today.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.