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S. Korea Ditches Plan to Open Up Civil Service
Source: koreaherald.com
Source Date: Thursday, September 09, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: Korea (Republic of)
Created: Sep 13, 2010

The government’s plan to have more outside experts join its managerial workforce flopped after the Foreign Ministry was found to have given undue favors to the minister’s daughter to hire her.

The government agreed Thursday to the ruling Grand National Party’s proposal to keep the status quo by ditching the plan to recruit half of “grade-five” officials through special programs.

Over the past 10 years, an average of 37 percent of those who joined the government as “grade-five” officials were hired through special programs, whereas the rest are regularly recruited through annual civil service examinations.

“The rate of (officials hired through) the special employment program was 27.4 percent last year and 37.4 percent on average over the past 10 years. It will not exceed those levels,” Rep. Kim Jung-kwon on the parliamentary committee for public administration said in a press briefing after the meeting.

The change of plans comes amid much public criticism over nepotism in the public sector, coinciding with President Lee Myung-bak’s repeated calls for a “fair society.”

Former Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan’s daughter, who had worked for three years as a temporary worker at the foreign ministry until June last year, was rehired as a grade-five official last week, stirring fierce public backlash.

The Ministry of Public Administration and Safety found in its inspection that the Foreign Ministry had readjusted the qualifications and application schedules for Yu’s daughter. Yu resigned and his daughter’s employment was canceled, but relentless criticism has led the Board of Audit and Inspection to launch a sweeping survey of central and local government agencies for possible irregularities in employment and promotions.

Several GNP legislators have denounced the government’s plan to reduce the rate of grade-five officials recruited through the civil service exams, which was announced without prior consultations with the ruling party.

Rep. Hong Joon-pyo said it deprives those from poor families of the opportunity to move up the social ladder and Rep. Chung Doo-un called it “an obsessive one-shot administrative move for mere display.”

The ruling party and the government on Thursday agreed to rename the current higher civil service examination to “grade-five recruitment examination” and maintain the annual number of officials hired through the exam at around 300.

They also agreed to push for the passage of the bill that prohibits outdoor demonstrations during nighttime ahead of the Seoul G20 summit in November.
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