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Everything You Need to Know about Korean Packaging Translation Services

Posted by Chloe G. on February 07, 2022.

Korean packaging translation services could make or break your entry into the Korean market.

If a new customer has never heard of your brand before, packaging will be the very first thing that gets him attracted to find out more, or pay it back to its position. 

That’s why getting your packaging translated and localized for Koreans is very important. It is not just the simple, direct translation of the words on your label, but more about the images you use, marketing slogans, color scheme, product name, etc. that suits well with Koreans’ needs while following the local laws.

Overall, accurately translating product packaging is a task that must be well prepared. Here’s what you’ll need to know:

Packaging translation – complications to watch out for


There are a few essential considerations to keep in mind when you start your product packaging translation: 

#1. Labeling legislation in Korean packaging translation services

Different nations and areas have dramatically different regulations governing what information should and should not be included on your packaging.

A product sold in Korea normally includes these details:

  • Product name
  • Name and address of Korean manufacturer, or importer, and original manufacturer in case of imported products
  • The distributor’s name and address should be included if the importer and distributor are not the same;
  • Materials
  • Size or volume
  • Production number or date (or expiration period)
  • Price: whoever sells to the customer shall write the price
  • Precaution notice, etc.

Furthermore, Korean legislation establishes special labeling requirements for some foodstuffs and textiles, as well as electrical equipment, cosmetics, consumer goods, etc. 

For example, in the cosmetic field, the use of PVC materials and colored PET bottles is banned in South Korea from the end of 2019. 

Since then, businesses have been obligated to evaluate the packing material grade (Act on the Promotion of Saving and Recycling Resources). The recyclability of the packaging materials used should be assessed on a scale of “best to recycle,” “good to recycle,” “normal to recycle,” and “difficult to recycle.” The grade given must be included in the cosmetic product.  

Hence, when you use Korean packaging translation services for your product, you have to conduct thorough research on labeling legislation to ensure that you are in full compliance with all regulations of the Korean government. 

#2. Language legislation  

The legal obligations for product labels go beyond what should and should not be written on them. They also cover the languages in which they should express it.

In the Korean market, the labeling for all the products shall be written in Korean, even allowing the supplementary indication in English.

The marking of the product’s origin is also compulsory and should be indicated either in Korean, Chinese, or English.

#3. Ingredients and component legislation

When tapping into a new market like Korea, taking into account the legality of the ingredients and components used in your product is an important step.

For example, Korea is committed to rigorous standards when it comes to prohibited or restricted substances, particularly in the food and beverage sector. There are national and international rules that govern how chemicals can cross borders legally. 

#4. Marketing legislation


Making false marketing claims on product packaging is illegal in many nations and areas for good reason.

In Korea, for example, you could not claim your product belongs to “best to recycle” but it actually does not. In fact, you have to go through an evaluation process of 3 phases: 

  1. Self-evaluation by a producer obligated to recycle; 
  2. The Korea Environment Corporation (KECO) conducted an evaluation (an organization under the Ministry of Environment and tasked with surveillance);
  3. Labeling of packaging with evaluation results.

#5. Cultural differences in Korean packaging translation services

This is a big area to cover. When having Korean packaging translation services translate your product; however, it should always be at the top of your priority list.

The most basic example of this is the use of color. Color has a symbolic meaning or attachment in most cultures. For example, the color most commonly associated with mourning varies greatly depending on the culture. It’s as follows:

  • Black: in many western cultures
  • White: in China
  • Purple: in Brazil, and for widows in Thailand
  • Red: in South Africa
  • Grey: in Papua New Guinea
  • Blue: in Korea

This simply implies that what makes your product packaging appealing in certain locations may make it completely unappealing or even confusing in others. Hence, understanding Korean’s culture is the key if you want your message to reach Korean customers.


How to translate your product packaging


The above are some generalities that you should be aware of. Now let’s switch to how to have Korean packaging translation services translate your product to become an effective sales machine while being legal and culturally relevant:

#1. Never use automatic translation

Software like Google Translate – or, as it’s more properly known, generic machine translation software – might be useful for getting the general sense of something written in another language. It is, however, unsuited for a nuanced, accurate translation like product packaging.

This is even worse if your product labels include idiomatic, non-factual phrases. These are some of the kinds that Google Translate and other generic automatic solutions really struggle with. 

That is why you should always partner with a professional Korean packaging translation services supplier who has native speakers. This will ensure that the final appearance of your product labeling is natural, sensical, or even legal. Don’t forget to have your label revised and proofread before it reaches your target market, if possible.

#2. Use an industry specialist for Korean packaging translation services

In addition to hiring a native speaker, you should always prioritize choosing a translator who is a specialist in your subject.

This is especially critical in certain businesses. Pharmaceutical products, for example, need specialized knowledge. You can’t just make a guess at the appropriate phrases. It is important to have a deep understanding of both the source and target languages, as well as the industry’s culture.

#3. Translation works, localization succeeds


Having native, industry specialist expertise on your side as mentioned before is essential, as Korean packaging translation services need to go further than simple translation. What you have to look for is effective localization. 

Localization is the process of adapting your packaging to fit the needs of the Koreans. Ideally, you’ll want to customize every single aspect of it. This will contain not only the words you use but also:

  • Images
  • Layout and design
  • Symbols and icons (many of these are not as universal as you might suppose)
  • Use of color
  • Diagrams
  • Format of instruction
  • Date formattings, such as the precise expiration date or the “best before” date


Choose a Pro Company

Using a professional Korean packaging translation services provider to localize your product labels will make the packaging translation process much easier for you.

With their in-depth understanding of your target market and your own research of why your product makes sense to sell in Korea in light of local tastes and preferences, you’ll be well on your way to reaping the financial and reputational benefits of having your own carefully localized product packaging.

GTE Localize is a reliable localization company specializing in Asian languages. With a wide pool of +1200 linguists all over the world, we have native industry specialists in more than 120 languages and uncounted fields. By providing accurate and localized Korean packaging translation services for hundreds of B2B companies, we have become their trustworthy companion in conquering the Korean market.

Korean Packaging Translation Services

If you are stuck at designing an efficient and productive localization program in Korea, let’s begin with our 38-page white paper for SMEs here.

Are you looking for a Korean packaging translation services provider that has a deep understanding of the Korean market? Get in touch with us today for a free, no-obligation quote or simply discuss your project.