Friday, March 25, 2011


After months of waiting, I would like to present you with my second official Korea List: Unfortunately Misspelled and/or Mistranslated Signs, hereafter UMMS.

UMMS are a part of daily life here in the ROK. The number of Koreans speaking English is steadily increasing, many children attending English-only pre-schools and kindergartens (raising questions about how much this next generation of Koreans is really learning about Korea, but that’s a rant for another day). English is chic, and more and more stores are showing their flair (and willingness to accept foreign business) by incorporating English words and phrases onto their signs.

Unfortunately, a good number of these well-intentioned English signs just arent’t quite right and could have benefited tremendously by a quick look-over by a native English speaker. Of which there are over a million in Korea. All of whom would be willing to spell-check such things for maybe the cost of a beer, tops. (If you are Korean, and about to put up a sign in English, please, please let me help you!)

Here are a few of my favorite UMMS from the past seven months, in no particular order:

UMMS #1. Hoers.

I discovered this gem at the Busan International Film Festival back in November. "Hoers" was a valiant effort by the festival's organizers to inform the foreign population in attendance about the schedule, but unless they intended to warn the audience that people would be ho-ing at certain times, (Operating ho-ers) the sign just didn't make sense.

UMMS #2. Origin.

More of a UMMM (Unfortunately Misspelled and/or Mistranslated Menu) than a true UMMS, but still a classic. In this particular pizza restaurant, they allow you to choose your own crust. Terrific, right? Sadly, their list of crust choices somehow got lost in translation, leaving you to select from Gold, Nude, Cookie, Origin, or Cheese Cap. I would venture to guess that Gold is a fairly normal, well-baked dough, cookie would be appropriate for a dessert-pizza, and Cheese Cap is the same as stuffed-crust. Nude, however, has me baffled. And Origin? Oh my. Any native English-speaking person could have added the essential "-al" in all of .25 seconds, helping this poor menu make much more sense almost instantly.

UMMS #3. Yoyr.

This grammatically incorrect UMMS comes from a design shop down the street from my apartment. To begin with, "yoyr" is not a real word. Sorry, Korea. Secondly, even the corrected "Drop your old design to the trash..." doesn't make much sense. The preposition you're looking for was "into" or even just simply "in". E for Effort, though.

UMMS #4. Moning.

I found this gem in the front of little cafe on the opposite side of Seoul. Kudos for catching their own spelling mistake, but their correction still made me giggle.

UMMS #5. Interrior.

Another example from Bucheon. Exactly how many r's does the word "Interrior" have?

UMMS #6. Chiness.

The Chiness restaurant is infamous in Bucheon. Not only did they write "Chiness" (perhaps a combination of Chinese and Chess?) on their sign above the window, but also directly on their window, and even behind the window on some decorative wall installation. They're absolutely rocking the misspelling thing. It's such a blatant and ridiculous misspelling that I would go to the Chiness Restaurant just to say I'd been to the Chiness Restaurant. Brilliant.

UMMS #7. You baked my mother?

This final UMMS comes from a cute little cafe I pass with Kimchi everyday on the way to the park. I understand what they're trying to say. Homemade pies baked with Mom's heart and soul. Sadly, however, this particular translation sounds quite gruesome and a little like they baked my poor mother into a pie :(

In conclusion, Korea, I love you. But please, please let me help you spell and translate things!

- Christine -

1 comment:

  1. I Suji there was pizza place across the road from where I lived that said, "It's yammy!"