Reporter-Turned-Interpreter Uneasy with New-Found Fame

      February 15, 2020 08:31

      Interpreter Ahn Hyun-mo has become a celebrity after doing an impressive job simultaneously translating the first U.S.-North Korea summit, Billboard Music Awards ceremony and other news conferences. But she says she feels a little uneasy about her sudden rise to fame.

      She was already in the public eye after appearing on several TV variety shows and as the wife of producer and rapper Rhymer.

      "I'm embarrassed because there are people out there who are more talented," she recently told the Chosun Ilbo.

      Ahn Hyun-mo

      When she was interpreting the Billboard Music Awards ceremony in 2018, Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, won the Top Social Artist Award and Ahn stopped interpreting when group member RM took the stage to make a speech. She says she wanted BTS fans to hear directly what RM had to say.

      Her thorough preparation also drew praise from viewers. In-depth knowledge of people or events is essential for simultaneous translators to help them accurately convey what is being said in another language.

      Ahn worked as a news presenter and reporter since 2009. Opportunity came knocking when SBS CNBC was looking for part-time interpreters ahead of its launch here, and she applied for the job. Soon afterwards she was asked to fill in for the anchor until a full-time replacement could be found. She then transferred to SBS where she worked as a reporter.

      After gaining recognition as a reporter, Ahn began to wonder if that was her calling. "Reporting is a fun job," she said. "But I began to wonder why I was still doing something I started by chance. I thought I'd be doing that job for no more than six months and wanted to find an occupation I really liked."

      But it took seven years until she decided to pursue her real passion. She tapped into her journalism experience interviewing foreign luminaries and handling tons of documents in English, but she's still in the business of conveying the message of other people.

      "I took on a new challenge, but both types of work involve conveying words," she said. "Whether I'm reporting and writing articles or whether I'm hosting an event or interpreting, I'm still conveying the words of others. I left my job, but I don't feel as if I'm in another world."

      She says happiness is not determined by salary and should not depend only on accomplishing some faraway goal. "Happiness is where we find it in our daily lives," she said. "I'm happy with my life now and thankful for what I do and those who are there next to me."

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