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Honey Lee lost in translation


Could it be that the stunningly gorgeous Miss Honey Lee (24) (trans: Lee Ha-nee) missed out on Miss Universe crown because the translator flubbed up? Alert POPSEOUL! readers have pointed out that the translator made it sound that Miss Korea was a gold digger instead of the humanitarian motives for having a fat but endless wallet. If this is true, then the translator is defintitely at fault. As every good interpreter knows, translation is more of an art since the interpreter’s major role is to be sensitive as to how the speaker is being presented to others – therefore, literal translations or skipping out on words could be detrimental to the image of the speaker. However, the important thing here is that Honey Lee made it to the top 5 and that is quite a feat for Korea. Besides, Honey Lee left the competition with an extra $1,000 in her wallet and the honor of putting Korea back on the map in beauty contests. Congrats Honey.

There is always next year. Hopefully, Korea will make sure they get a better translator.

The mikimoto crown went to Miss Japan – Riyo Mori.
1st Runner up: Miss Brazil, Natalia Guimares
2nd Runner up: Miss Venezuela, Ly Jonaitis
3rd Runner up: Miss Korea, Honey Lee
4th Runner up: Miss USA, Rachel Smith

Honey Lee is #1
Honey Lee rocks the costume competition
Honey Lee sweetens Miss Universe



48 Comments on “Honey Lee lost in translation”

  1. jane =] says:

    thats what i thought, but i wasnt sure.

  2. marie s says:

    well actually, i think she didnt answer the question straight. the question if m not mistaken is what superpower does she want to have? in my opinion, having a superpower means BEING ABLE to do something that others are unable, as opposed to HAVING something that has some kind of magic in it. this may have been what the judges were hoping for as an answer.

    i agree. the translation may have sounded that way to others.

  3. marie s says:

    she’s still pretty though. and she looks intelligent. as i’ve said in the other honey lee article, the question should have been the same for all contestants. her question was just a duuuh and lacks depth. therefore, how could her answer have depth if the question was so. had she gotten a better question i have no doubt she would have bagged the title. this year is the year of the asians.

  4. joe says:

    omg…now it’s here…i was so mad when the translator told them like that…i was like…NOOO!! she didn’t mean that way!! arggg….

  5. Brian says:

    Why is making the top 5 “quite a feat” for Korea?

  6. kiwee says:

    because it is the 1st time korea has in a long time. anyway, i doubt she lost because of translation error. sure, she probably could have gotten more points, but she was 4th. i think that’s a pretty large gap to be made up by interview points.

  7. eryert says:

    i speak korean, and the translator didnt mess up

  8. seeny says:

    I don’t speak korean, but i got what she was saying and didn’t think she was a gold digger… it’s kind of expected that connotations and such will get lost/screwed up in translation, and I think that the judges would’ve taken that into account (as anyone speaking to someone through a translator would), but in this case, I don’t think that even played a part at all (or at least only minimally). It ws easy to understand what she was saying, and her good intentions, but her answer kinda sounded generic… (but i’m not saying all the rest didn’t). But to her benefit, her question did kinda suck.

    Which reminds me- where do they get these judges from? how is dave navarro or ‘that guy from heroes’ or ‘that girl from deal or no deal’ remotely qualified to judge the Miss Universe contest? Such stupid questions… and Navarro was practically hitting on them!

  9. Mindy K. says:

    I don’t know if Honey understood the Q. I do think she got the harder Q than say, someone who was asked, ‘which is better, the heart of the brain? She had to think creatively, quickly, and give a substantive answer to a duhhh question.

  10. Mindy K. says:

    I don’t understand how Michelle Kwan or Dave Navarro could judge the next beauty queen either…to me, they belong on the far side of that.

  11. Gaek says:

    South Korea has a hard time providing its Presidents or other high-level officials with competent translators when they go abroad. Fat chance on future Miss Korea contestants in getting them.

  12. xxcrazy_onex says:

    i was so dissapointed she didnt win ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    blegh, stupid translator…

  13. john says:

    Why can’t people accept that she lost. I hate when people make excuses. I would have liked to see her win, but the judges didnt think she was the best. End of Story.

  14. Anne says:

    John, word! She didn’t win the crown people, chill.

  15. kim yuna says:

    ahah i watched the show on sunday and i think she lost because this one question was “if you were to be a super hero what kind of superhero would you be” and a lot of people answered wonderwomen, storm from x-men.. etc. and honey answered ” a superhero that helps people” LOL this is true no lies

  16. SH says:

    I felt so bad for her!! Are the netizens in an uproar?
    Poor girl, I think she would have had a chance to get further up in the ranks or even have won if the translator did not mess it up!
    Yeah, she didn’t get the crown, but I think part of the blame goes to the translator for screwing up big time.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Miss. Korea staff ripped her a new one.

  17. Irony says:

    This is wat she really said in korean ” Missionary work is my dream, and if I had super powers, I would combine all of talents, and all of my abilities to bring happiness to this world. And also, a super power that provided a purse with endless money would also be helpful to achieve my dreams.”

  18. eryert says:

    i agree with john, get over it people, she lost and the better girl won

    japan deserved it, but “certain” ppl just cant accept that

  19. Marissa says:

    Wow, a lot of people are taking “Miss Universe” seriously. Personally, I could care less. I don’t take pageants queens as anything significant.

  20. lastdrop says:

    i think she was hot instead of the others!!!

  21. Eve says:

    Eh what’s the big deal? Most of the people that win don’t even do anything do they? What do they win? Besides the title of course because I don’t know any other Miss. Universes. And I agree with some ppl above^^ just get over it…so she did 30 other contestants…the judges pick and they didn’t pick her…*shrug lol

  22. christianpete says:

    its about national pride, no different than rooting for an athlete representing your country in the olympics. If an olympian gets robbed of a medal, that athlete’s country would be pissed and rightfully so. Its the same situation with Honey. People who have an emotional stake in this competition have the right to vent if an injustice occured. Its not only here but across the internet, on Korean blogs and forums this is a heated topic. Some westerners (North Americans) are so jaded and blasรฉ, they are clueless as to why some countries are fanatical about international events like this.

    As for the translator (I don’t hate her, she just wasn’t qualified), I think she was provided by the pageant and not part of the S.Korean delegation. Her english was unrefined and the fact that some of the international judges whose command of the english language is suspect, only compounded the misunderstanding.

  23. Loanhub says:

    Beautiful……. You can not compare her with anybody, just classic.

  24. jose says:

    i love this woman. i’m usually not into asian chicks, but she’s an exception. i wish she had won, but oh well. its a pity her words got taken out of context.

    p.s. if any of the admins are reading this, please publish more material on her! thanks.

  25. amareally says:

    WEll as Asian i’m happy that 2 asians got into the top 5, but by bet was on Brazil….hahahah! Oh well, i guess Riyo Mori won because she made use of the extra cloth on her evening gown, went crative with it and twrill around in it. the others are just walking straight, possing, and smilling. I think Honey Lee was looking much better when she did the personal interview, i was surprised she didn’t answered herself, her english sounded good.

  26. Gaek says:

    **another typical ridiculous, bullshit Korean netizen fabrication alert**

    I am a native Korean speaker, was born and raised there, and my Korean is good proficient to the point where I’ve translated legal documents and academic papers, among others. Unfortunately, having finally heard Miss Lee’s controversial answer, and it’s translation, I pronounce that Miss Lee was emphatically not wronged here.

    Instead, the blame lies solely with Miss Lee. While it is true that she appears to have tried to act “cute” with the “wallet” comment, and the translation did not–and could not–capture that nuance, that is solely Miss Lee’s fault. Either Miss Lee should have learned English, or she should have exercised better judgment.

    Of course, like many Korean netizen-originating myths, she will become another in a long line of Korean “champions” whose legitimate titles were “stolen” in an international competition. Oh, the han, the han!

    How unsurprising.

  27. Peter says:

    My favorite to win…together with Venezuela. Perfect Korean beauty…her countrymen should be proud of her.

  28. dkfgyriut says:

    im sorry, but all the pissy little complaining korean bitches need to get over it, consider this justice for rain unfairly winning the time poll

  29. t5drei says:

    well it wasnt her fault though…and i really did thought that she gave a good answer…and there is really no need to worry, if she really meant her answer to be that way as what you all have said then we would know or perhaps the judges would know granting that the judge who asked her the question was a korean himself…she is lucky enough to made it into the top 5 and ending korea’s 19 year drought in ms. universe…

  30. christianpete says:

    if one takes a stroll thru the many Miss Universe forums, they are likely to stumble upon comments such as – “….Miss Korea, shes so greedy! Wishing for more money….”, “….she loves money…..”, etc. (you can view similar negative comments from users in this site as well). How is it so many non-Koreans think this way of Korea’s beauty representative? Unless Miss Lee’s answer was not properly translated and that has lead many to misconstrue her answer. Should we sweep this misunderstanding under the rug? Allow the negative statements about her to go unchallenged? I for one think not.

    Honey’s final answer was in line with the humanitarian/good will responses pageant audiences expect. Since the oral translator is acting as a “mouth piece” for the contestant, they become a direct participant in the contest itself. How well they interpret determines, to a certain degree, the fate of the contestant. I contend, if Honey was given a skilled interpreter – one who is fluent in both languages (without a hint of an accent), able to detect tone and nuances, etc. Then I feel it would have given Miss Korea a chance to compete for the top prize.

    So is this topic a complete fabrication, as a particular user has suggested here? One that was invented by mischievous Korean netizens in order create discord? With all the passionate responses on both sides of the issue, I disagree with that cynical view.

  31. dorkable says:

    Whatever is the case, she still made it to the Top 5 List, give her due credit and cheers!

  32. mindy says:

    she lost

    get over it

  33. […] courtesy from: PopSeoul Miss Universe […]

  34. han says:

    “Missionary work is my dream, and if I had super powers, I would combine all of talents, and all of my abilities to bring happiness to this world. And also, a super power that provided a purse with endless money would also be helpful to achieve my dreams.โ€

    THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID?!!?!?!?!?!?
    dang i love you, honey lee!!!

    this woman is so goddess-like i worship her lol
    and i love her voice too!! i hope she becomes a celebrity so i can see her more often

  35. […] is of course the real competition which counts, and Lee came fourth. A rumour over at Popseoul suggests that a poor translation service cost Lee her victory: Alert POPSEOUL! […]

  36. […] Here’s what Pop Seoul had to say about Honey Lee’s translation woes. […]

  37. derek88 says:

    does she have an official blog?

  38. derek88 says:

    hey does anyone have more news about what Honey is doing after the competition ended? Is she back in school? I want to know more about Honey! I love you Honey!

  39. jamie says:

    a wallet that never runs out of money is not a super power…its possible for someone who is rich…

    a gold-laying duck is much more fictious..

  40. abigail says:

    i’ve watched the pageant and the translator did it right.
    Ms. Venezuela have better answer than Ms. Korea

  41. OMG! says:

    Gaek and abigail:

    I would be interested to see how you would interpret honeyโ€™s answers. Iโ€™ve tried to transcribe the question, the interpreter, and honeyโ€™s answers as best I could from your link. Perhaps youโ€™d like to show us how youโ€™d interpret honeyโ€™s answer? As my amateur transcription shows, the translator made some absolutely critical errors. Gaek, if you indeed have the credentials that you say you have, you would have to agree the interpreter was wrong. I would have to disagree with you and call your bluff because translation and interpreting, while similar, are two very different disciplines. When translating a document, you have access to dictionaries, thesaurus, and other resources as well as TIME to translate, thus getting a very accurate translation. Interpreting otoh requires extremely quick thinking, having to become the clientโ€™s mouthpiece and getting every nuance, idiom, and expression right in both languages in real time. Have you seen the movie โ€œThe Interpreterโ€ with Nicole Kidman? She says a line in the movie to the effect that depending on what word they use in the U.N. interpreting for ambassadors, they can start wars. In this case, the interpreter lost the competition, if not at least a higher placing for honey imho.

    James Kyson Lee: If you can have any type of superpower, what would it be and why?
    Interpreter: ๋งŒ์•ฝ์— ์ˆ˜ํผํŒŒ์›Œ ์ค‘์—์„œ ํ•˜๋‚˜๋ฅผ ์„ ํƒํ• ์ˆ˜ ์žˆ๋‹ค๋ฉด, ์–ด๋– ํ•œ ํŒŒ์›Œ๋ฅผ ์›ํ•˜์‹œ๊ฒ ๊ณ  ๋˜ ์™œ ๊ทธ๋Ÿฌํ•œ์ง€ ๋ง์”€์„ ํ•ด์ฃผ์‹œ๊ฒ ์๋‹ˆ๊นŒ?

    Honey Lee: ์–ดโ€ฆ ์ œ๊ฐ€โ€ฆ ๋ฏธ์Ž ๋‚ด๋ฆฌ๊ฐ€ ์ œ ๊ฟˆ์ธ๋Œ€์š”, ์ˆ˜ํผํŒŒ์›Œ๊ฐ€ ์žˆ๋‹ค๋ฉด, ์ œ๊ฐ€ ๊ฐ€์ง„ ์žฌ๋ ฅ๊ณผ ๊ทธ๋ฆฌ๊ณ  ์ œ๊ฐ€ ๊ฐ€์ง„ ์žฌ๋Šฅ๊ณผ ์ œ๊ฐ€ ๊ฐ€์ง„ ๋ชจ๋“  ๊ฒƒ์œผ๋กœ ํ–‰๋ณต์„ ๋‚˜๋ˆ„๋Š” ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด ๋˜๊ณ  ์‹ถ๊ตฌ์š”..
    Interpreter: Missionary work is my dream, and if I were to have a superpower, I would like to have a superpower that enables us to, or me to use all my power, and all my authority, and my money to help missionary work…

    Honey Lee: ๊ทธ๋ฆฌ๊ณ  ์จ๋„ ์จ๋„ ์ˆ˜ํผํŒŒ์›Œ๊ฐ€ ์žˆ๋‹ค๋ฉด, ๋ฌผ๋ก  ๋ˆ์ด ์จ๋„ ์จ๋„ ์ค„์–ด๋“ค์ง€ ์•ˆ๋Š” ์ง€๊ฐ‘์ด ์žˆ๊ฒ ์ฃ ? ๊ทธ๊ฒƒ๋„ ๋˜ํ•œ ์žˆ์œผ๋ฉด ์ข‹๊ฒ ์๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.
    Interpreter: And actually I would say that a wallet that never dries up would be a good superpower for me to have.

  42. OMG! says:

    what? no takers? c’mon. even the casual korean/english student can tell the huge difference in thought and words… i’ll wait a few days for gaek and abigail to come up with a rebuttal…

    as a side note, ya’ll might want to check out this link regarding japan’s miss universe program. any wonder why miss japan won?,8599,1631932,00.html

  43. ashley says:

    well as for me, i noe spanish and the translation for venezuela SUCKED bad!!.

    i also thought honey lee’s response was like nehh .. i was hoping for some REALLY cool and creative super power from her. maybe it was the translator too~

  44. Meru says:

    OMG!’s article link poses an interesting point. They all have the “homogeneous beauty pageant look.”

    I thought Honey Lee was pretty until I saw that one pic with all the top 5 pagent winners, who all look identical ethicity aside.

    Mori and Lee looks like a pair of Asian twins, and Brazil, Venezuela, USA all look the same. With the same hair, same smile, same skin tone. What differientiate them are the non-superficial qualities– what people can’t see with their eyes. So on that note:

    Honey Lee’s answer does not have clarity and eloquence. If the answer was such, the matter of translation should not have mattered or be the main topic of “why didn’t she win” debate. Yes, the overall meaning of her answer is selfless humantarian, but she failed to convey that clearly. Even with the “correct” translation, I still think she screwed herself over by playing with words. A good answer leaves no room for two completely different interpretation.

  45. Julia says:

    She was so beautiful that the translation must have been wronged. I wish she would have won or Miss Venezuela, but then again I`m glas Miss Japan won.

  46. lydia says:

    honey lee is not a gold digger..shes too purdy/gorgeous/stunning to be a gold digger.

  47. […] far, the only Miss Korea who has come close to the top 5 is Honey Lee […]

  48. joana says:

    she is sooooo pretty!
    that’s why she is kim hyun joong’s ideal girl ๐Ÿ˜‰

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