A national blemish

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A national blemish

Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan submitted his resignation to President Lee Myung-bak just two days after controversy arose over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s decision to hire Yu’s daughter.

A Blue House official said that, as far as he knows, President Lee Myung-bak Lee will accept the resignation. The controversy has created a big blemish on Yu’s reputation and diplomatic career. His unexpected fall is a shameful moment not only for Yu himself but also for the entire history of our foreign ministry.

We take special note of the fact that Yu offered his resignation not because of his job performance but because of the special favors he offered his daughter in his capacity as foreign minister.

The mishap took place just two months ahead of the G-20 Summit in Seoul. How are we going to explain this one to other members of the G-20?

An inspection team from the Ministry of Public Administration and Security has been investigating the incident, following instructions from the president.

We hope the team will clear up all remaining questions surrounding the incident. The team also must hold all officials accountable for their actions if they were involved. Additionally, someone must take responsibility for the ministry’s lie that it followed normal employment procedures and didn’t even know at the time that the job applicant was Yu’s daughter.

The team should also clear up questions surrounding another seven ministry employees whose parents work there as well.

According to a document obtained by GNP lawmaker Hong Jung-wook, nine out of 22 people who passed a test required to enter the diplomatic field - and primarily based on English proficiency - have parents working in high-ranking positions at the ministry. As a result, the public’s suspicion over the privileged group has been growing.

Even though the sons and daughters of diplomats might have a strong advantage over others in terms of their ability to speak a foreign language, the pass rate in this group of test-takers is still abnormally high.

Furthermore, the existing exam system used to foster the next generation of diplomats will be scrapped by 2012, when the nation will adopt a new recruiting system that involves a diplomatic academy. This shift will further benefit the children of diplomats.

No one within the ministry raised concerns or objected when Yu’s daughter was hired. It’s time to get rid of factionalism and personal connections and focus instead on drive, talent and merit.

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