Google URL-based page translation stops working in Korea (but with a simple workaround)

UPDATE 2021: 
The workaround method I mentioned below has been patched by Google and no longer works. The Google Translate website itself will no longer translate pages in Korea. However you can still use Chrome's built-in translation features, as well as the official Google Translate Chrome extension



Google has ceased operating it's URL-based page translation service in South Korea. 

"Translation via URL is not available in South Korea"

Removal of Google's URL page translations


This means that you can no longer visit translate.google.com and input a page URL to see the page translated into your language. Try it yourself. If you try, you will only see a message like these (the one above is for desktop, these are mobile):

Messages in English and Korean indicating translations are unavailable

대한민국에서는 URL을 통한 번역이 제공되지 않습니다. Chrome에서 이 페이지를 번역하세요. 
Translation via URL is not available in South Korea. Translate this page inside Google Chrome. 

Note that this only applies to translating full web pages via the Google Translate website. The site still works for translating pasted pieces of text, and Chrome's built-in page translation still works fine. In fact the above warning messages encourage you to download Chrome and use it for translation.

Why this feature was removed


Why? Why depreciate this feature but leave Chrome based page translation intact? 

A comment on Namu Wiki suggests the reason:

2020년 9월 15일부터 페이지 번역이 대한민국에서 차단되었다. 구글 측에서 이유를 밝히지 않았으나, url 번역을 이용한 우회를 막을 목적으로 차단한 것으로 추정된다. 네티즌들은 논란이 되는 디지털교도소나 일베 등의 사이트는 차단 안하고 이런것만 차단한다는 비난이 쇄도 중.

Apparently as of September 15, 2020, the page based translation was blocked because presumably people were using it as a low-key, amateur, jerry-rigged, poor man's way of bypassing South Korean internet censorship and blocking. Since the translated pages are served through the Google Translate domain, it was a simple non-VPN way of viewing a block website's content. If you "translated" a blocked dirty website for example, you would be viewing it's content on translate.google.com which of course it not blocked. 

In fact a quick Google of "구글번역 차단" (Google translate block) pulls up many tutorials explaining how to use this feature to access blocked content:






I'm not too old to know that even in the USA kids would use this method to bypass their school's content filters. Korean kids had figured out this trick too to access inappropriate content. 

Google's removal of this feature only applies to users within South Korea. Try the same thing from outside Korea, and it will work fine. 

This give evidence to the idea that Google was probably asked to remove this, as South Korean authorities are pretty strict about national blocking of sites that offer illicit content without any age verification system in place (i.e. like the majority of USA-based naughty websites where you only need to click "I'm over 18"). Korean dirty sites and gambling sites do exist but users are required to prove their age, usually with a phone number verification. 

Chrome translation isn't an issue because Chrome loads the page itself first, then translates the content afterward. Thus Chrome wouldn't be able to pull in the blocked content to be translated in the first place. 

Workaround: adding the "prev" parameter


UPDATE 2021: This method no longer works. Sorry folks.

But don't think Korean netizens will take this lying down. One has already noted that to get around this, you only need to add simple parameters to the URL structure. He suggests adding the following to the Google Translate URL:

&prev=search

Yes. That's it. And believe it or not, that works. So your translated URL would look something like this:

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=news.naver.com&prev=search

If you're too lazy to manually add that each time, unbelievably, he's also created a Greasemonkey script on GitHub that will insert it for you at https://github.com/joyfuI/google-translate-korea-use


joyfuI/google-translate-korea-use

Or if you'd rather just have this added on-demand, here's a quick bookmarklet I made for the same effect. Just drag it to your browser's bookmarks bar: Google Translate This Page

Here's the structure if you're curious or want to make your own bookmarklets:

javascript:location='http://translate.google.com/translate?langpair=auto|en&prev=search&u='+encodeURIComponent(location)


Who knows how long this little workaround will work for, but try it yourself for now. 


Comments

  1. Thanks for info. Believe or not, South Korean government actively censor all public porn sites(pornhub etc.) regardless of your age. Pretty annoying.

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