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08/07/2017 Interview > Alumni

Title

Engineer Publishing a Dictionary

A Hanyang alumni publishing Cambodian-Korean dictionary with self-taught Cambodian

김소연

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http://www.hanyang.ac.kr/surl/d6YM

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Living in a country where you do not speak the language can be one of the most challenging things in the world. There is a proud Hanyangian who overcame the difficulty and even made a dictionary of the foreign language. Kim Woo-taek (Department of Automotive Engineering, '02) published ‘Cambodian-Korean- English Korean-Cambodian- English Dictionary’ which contains more than 40,000 vocabularies in September 2014. 
 

First person in the world to publish Korean-Cambodian dictionary
 

“I never dared to make a dictionary from the beginning,” said Kim. Coming to Cambodia without speaking the language, he had to study hard to communicate with the locals. As private education was not an option at the moment, Kim chose to learn the language by himself and started reading newspapers. Kim symbolized the letters in his head while reading the paper. “I still get some pronunciations wrong because I learned the langauge through reading”, reminisced Kim. After a while, he was able to read documents without having to look for dictionaries. He kept notes on the vocabularies he does not know while studying in such way, and his notes became a valuable asset in publishing the dictionary.  
 

Kim and his wife, Som Sopheap is holding Kim's three publications.
(Photo courtesy of Kim)


 

One day, he wanted to make a good use of all the data he has. He visited every bookstore in Cambodia and bought 20 dictionaries, then typed them page by page for four years. It took much longer than his initial estimation, but with passion he invested his nights in the work. For a person who has no professional background knowledge, it was not easy to match Korean and Cambodian dictionaries with the accurate nuances. One of the most arduous works in the progress was writing pronunciations of Cambodian words in Korean because the two languages are phonetically different. 

Kim and his friend are standing infront of a church
in Kampot, Cambodia. (Photo courtesy of Kim)



ខ្ញុំស្រឡាញ់អ្នកកម្ពុជា។ (I Love you, Cambodia!)

As an answer to the question ‘Who helped the most in publishing the dictionary?’, Kim told it was his wife without any hesitation. Kim’s wife, Som pronounced the words and edited the dictionary with Kim for about a year. “She helped me with all the hard works,” said Kim. 

It is not only his wife he loves about Cambodia. Kim explained the country as the place where you “give and help, instead of fight and win”. Leading a happy life being his utmost goal, he has been living in the country since January of 2009. From the love of the country, Kim published three other books ‘Cambodia Tour Guidebook (2005)’, ‘Cambodian Tourist Attractions Through The Lens (2017)’, and ‘Guidebook on Cambodian Agriculture (2014)’. His publications are popular in both countries, and the dictionary is considered as a must-have among Koreans in Cambodia, and Cambodians who are aiming to get a job in Korea.



Transferring agricultural technology

While running a tourism business in Phnom Penh, Kim is also keeping himself busy with KOPIA (Korea Program on International Agriculture). He works as a PR agent in the organization, transferring advanced Korean agricultural technology to Cambodia. Also, under KOPIA, Kim operates Cambodia Agriculture Information Center. “I am happy that there is something to do and someone who needs me” said Kim. As an engineer, CEO, husband, PR agent and publisher, Kim blueprints a future where he can be a bridge between Korean and Cambodian agriculture.
 


Kim So-yun        dash070@hanyang.ac.kr

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