Meet Austin. Austin runs a Korean language center and translates at Hallyu concerts and press conferences in Hong Kong. He has worked at events for BTS, BIGBANG, INFINITE, EXO, and many other top K-Pop idols when they visit Hong Kong.
He sat down with Hong Kong media outlet edigest to share some details about what a translator actually does for artists when they visit Hong Kong, and it’s not just translating during their concerts.
There’s a wide range of tasks for translators.
For example, when Korean stars come to Hong Kong for concerts, usually translators are required to pick them up from and send them off to the airport, accompany them to the hotel, go to the show, etc. Sometimes translators also need to stay at the same hotel as the artists, be with them at the rehearsals, and go shopping with them. I’ve also accompanied them at overnight practices.
Austin then revealed his most memorable moment as a translator, which involved INFINITE’s L and a group of sasaengs.
We were already very low-key at the time. When we were about to leave a shop, we saw a bunch of people crowding outside the window. After that, L grabbed onto me and started running. We got chased by hundreds of fans down several blocks, and they left only after we arrived at the hotel.
He then shared some of the things he has had to do for the artists to help make their stay in Hong Kong better.
Sometimes the artists forget their things, so translators have to communicate with the driver and arrange to pick up the forgotten items for the artists. We have also had experience with arranging for repair services for the artists’ damaged clothing.
We have also had artists ask us to help them by iPhones in Hong Kong. Due to the laws in Korea, iPhones make a noise while taking photos even when the silent mode is on. When we run into this kind of situation, we do our best to help them out.
Finally, he shared his tips for prospective translators who want to work for Korean artists and how much money they actually make.
Usually you will need at least 5 years of studying Korean before becoming a translator. It is best if you have lived in Korea for a while, so that you will be able to use the most accurate words while translating.
Normally, translators are part-time, and in Hong Kong there are usually more opportunities during the summer holidays when the stars are there for concerts and press conferences.
The normal daily pay is 1,000 HKD ($127.59 USD) to 2,000 HKD ($255.17 USD) for translators with 1-2 years of experience, but increases to 2,000 HKD ($255.17 USD) to 3,000 HKD ($382.75) for translators with 5 years or more experience.