Government backpedals on push to increase ‘special’ hirings

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Government backpedals on push to increase ‘special’ hirings

Students preparing for the civil service examination should keep on studying: reports of the exam’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

The government and the ruling Grand National Party scrapped a plan yesterday to increase the number of middle grade civil servants hired through “special selection” ? through interviews and resume screening in lieu of the test ? in the aftermath of the nepotism scandal at the foreign ministry involving outgoing foreign minister Yu Myung-hwan and his daughter.

The Ministry of Public Administration and Security said yesterday that it would fix the number of fifth grade civil servants hired via the civil service examination system at 300. An average of 307 were hired after taking the exam in each of the past three years.

The ministry also said that they are planning to gradually increase the number of those hired from special selection processes, backtracking on a plan announced Aug. 12 to hire 50% of its employees by special selection by 2015.

It also said it had a new plan on how to hire the specialists.

“To develop our hiring methods we are thinking of gathering those who have special abilities in one place, like a job fair, and recruit fifth grade civil servants in a fair and transparent manner,” said first home ministry vice minister Kim Nam-seok yesterday.

The ministry is planning on holding a job fair to hire specialists starting next year. Up until now, special hires were only done when fifth grade civil servant slots became vacant.

The government and GNP agreed to keep the rate of specialists hired for fifth grade civil servants at 37 percent for now.

“We have come to an agreement on the specialist hire number, as 27.4 percent of the total fifth grade servants were hired through special selection processes in 2009 and the average number for special hires has been 37.4 percent over the past ten years,” said GNP rep. Kim Jeong-kweon yesterday.

“We’ve worked at this special selection process for ten years and, as you can see, it hasn’t worked very well,” vice minister Kim said. “We are not trying to get rid of the exam, but rather to systemize the special selection process.”

Kim also announced that the exam’s name ? civil service gosi ? will be changed to “fifth grade open-hire examination.” Gosi is from the Chinese characters for “high examination,” which sounds too authoritarian, Kim said.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry has started to penalize several officials suspected of being involved in the controversial hiring of foreign minister Yu’s daughter, Hyun-sun, which led to the minister’s resignation last weekend.

According to the foreign ministry yesterday, Lim Jae-hong, head of the foreign ministry’s planning and coordination, has been asked to step down from his position and be on standby for another job.

Han Chung-hee, the director-general for human resources, has been transferred to the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, a ministry-affiliated think tank.

Second vice foreign minister Chun Yung-woo was given authority to look over personnel matters instead of first vice minister Shin Kak-soo.

As for further punishment for Shin, a source at the foreign ministry who asked not to be named said “more observation is needed, as it remains to be seen how deeply he was involved in the case.”

The personnel changes were negotiated between the ministry and the Blue House.

The decision comes after more suspicions were raised by lawmakers during Parliament sessions throughout the week that other officials’ children had been hired by the foreign ministry through a rigged “special selection” process.

Meanwhile, foreign ministry spokesperson Kim Young-sun said, “Successors for the now-empty ministry positions will soon be named by the ministry but punishment and the level of reprimand will be decided by the new minister after he comes into office.”


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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