Inadequate interpreting services for asylum seekers in South Korea have been criticized by human rights lawyers and refugee-related NGOs, but to date problems have not been subject to scholarly investigation by researchers. This article, which is based on the analysis of the discourse of court interpreting and courtroom observation, is the first attempt to examine the quality of interpreting during asylum appeal hearings in South Korea. In the absence of a legal interpreter training and accreditation programme, as this article demonstrates, ad hoc interpreting provided by untrained and unskilled interpreters often deviates from the norms of legal interpreting. Because of the lack of interpreting skills, interpreters often fail to provide accurate renditions of original utterances. Furthermore, being unfamiliar with the role of the interpreter in such legal settings, they frequently intervene to have sub-dialogues with witnesses and applicants and even influence the testimony by assuming the role of an advocate. Based on such findings, this article argues for the improvement in the quality of interpreting at asylum hearings through interpreter training and professionalization.
- Asylum seekers
- Interpreter's role