Nipping nepotism in the bud

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Nipping nepotism in the bud

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade hired the daughter of outgoing Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan through back-door channels, according to an inquest by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security.

Senior-level diplomats bent recruitment regulations and collaborated to bring on Yu’s daughter for a mid-level international trade position over other highly qualified candidates.

The entire recruitment process appeared to have been customized to fit Yu’s daughter, starting with the qualification requirements for the job. A member of the interview panel moved her ahead of others by emphasizing the need for career experience. Yu’s daughter had worked at the ministry on a contract basis, so she had a leg-up in that respect.

Imagine the despair and anger other candidates with humble backgrounds - but a strong desire to become diplomats - would have felt upon hearing that they were interviewed simply for appearances.

The Public Administration Ministry said the Foreign Ministry violated civil service regulations in the recruitment process. It should not stop at punishing a few officials. Government auditors must seek which officials were involved in the hiring process and prosecute them if necessary. It must also thoroughly investigate if nepotism was involved.

The government will walk directly into the storm if it takes the public’s anger about this scandal lightly. It must extend the investigation to other government offices as well to see if similar favoritism play a role in hiring decisions.

Board of Audit and Inspection Chairman Kim Hwang-sik pledged to investigate the government’s civil servant recruitment policies and practices. The Public Administration Ministry, which is in charge of hiring public servants, must be investigated as well. Public Administration Minister Maeng Hyung-kyu maintained that the government will keep its plan intact to reform the civil servant recruitment system by expanding opportunities for experts in specialized fields. The current system that breeds elitism and guarantees job security for life must be changed.

The problem revolves around how to effectively implement the changes. The government must prove that its hiring is not limited to a select class of people. The recruitment process must be expanded to encompass new talent in many fields, and it must not serve the personal interests of politicians or government officials.

The Public Administration Ministry plans to hold a public hearing on revising the civil service recruitment system. As many people as possible should take part so that we can create a fair and transparent hiring process.
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