The ‘poop pig’ syndrome

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The ‘poop pig’ syndrome

When you think of Jeju Island’s indigenous pigs, a black variety with long hair comes to mind. These so-called “poop pigs” used to be raised near toilets of traditional straw houses and were fed human feces and food waste.

The pigs are small in size and have a low reproduction rate. The population began to diminish when farmers were not eager to breed them and the Saemaeul Movement replaced traditional toilets with modern ones.

The Jeju Husbandry Promotion Center is breeding some 200 indigenous poop pigs to preserve their pure blood. So the Jeju black pork you currently get is actually from a mixed breed.

But the “poop pig syndrome” is spreading through society. The “poop pig” is slang, referring to children of powerful figures who were hired by the government, private or public corporations, financial institutions and universities through nepotism. The slang originated from a company whose employees began to slyly call the children of politicians and high-ranking officials employed through special recruitment processes “poop pigs.” Now, social network services like Twitter are flooded with posts that expose the practice. The posts disclose the process of special recruitment, the performance of these employees and dissatisfaction and doubts about their rapid promotions. Even the new slang “black pigs” popped up, referring to parents of the “poop pigs.”

Such “parachute employment” was ridiculed and criticized in the past. Under authoritarian regimes, many military officers were employed as fifth grade civil servants and were called “military boots.” Government agencies and public firms hired members of a mountaineering club, hence the name “hiking boots.”

The controversy surrounding the daughter of former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yu Myung-hwan and nepotistic employment is a typical “poop pig” scandal. It is such a dirty and ugly tale. It takes an average of 25 years for a ninth-grade civil servant to get promoted to a fifth-grade position. How can ninth-grade civil servants not feel upset when a certain person is hired as a fifth grade just because she has a powerful father in the ministry? The poop pig syndrome pressured the Ministry of Public Administration and Security to rescind a plan to hire 50 percent of fifth grade civil servants through special recruitment.

Average citizens with no power or connections are furious about this social injustice. They want to expose corruption through and through. It might be a great opportunity to take a step closer to a fair society. However, we need to be cautious not to turn the poop pig investigation into a witch hunt. Not all employees hired through the special recruitment are selected through unfair or nepotistic ways. Someone with verified competency should not be criticized just because he or she is hired through nonregular recruitment.

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Ko Dae-hoon

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