Don’t say this to a Korean guy! The comic in this video is the “rubbish man” comic which is a recent one on our blog. Since it’s Hugh’s job to take out the rubbish I called him “rubbish man” and then translated it directly into Korean. Unfortunately, direct translation sounds really bad! It doesn’t sound like a job description but instead is an insult! I did know that when I said it, but I wanted to get a reaction from Hugh. He definitely gave me one. It is correct Korean, but it would be used as an insult to someone who is bad, or did something bad. It can sometimes be used in a playful way, I think in the drama ‘Reply 1997’ it was used that way, but mostly a Korean guy is going to take offence!
The actual Korean words to describe the job of picking up the rubbish is more like “cleaner”. I didn’t know the proper Korean for that at all. So, this has been a warning not to just directly translate like that! Even when you do know something in a second language doesn’t sound good, you can’t fully understand the extent of it when you are not a native speaker. For example. I know that the word “pumpkin” in Korean can mean “ugly”, while in English it can be a cute pet name for loved ones but I can never fully understand the reaction Koreans have when someone calls them pumpkin (“hobak” in Korean”). So, my lesson has been, just because I know the words for “rubbish” and “man” in Korean, doesn’t mean that I should translate them and put them together like that.