Hiring favoritism rife in gov’t offices

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Hiring favoritism rife in gov’t offices

In the wake of the scandal involving the foreign minister, an investigation shows that local governments nationwide might have hired people with connections to high-ranking officials and who didn’t take the civil service exam.

The investigation by JoongAng Ilbo has found that 19 of 20 local government organizations it examined are under suspicion of offering jobs to people who had connections to government officials.

These candidates were chosen based only on a resume screening and an interview.

Foreign Minster Yu Myung-hwan resigned this week after his daughter was hired as a fifth grade official at his ministry without taking the standardized test. Ministry officials also allegedly rewrote the job criteria to give her an advantage over other applicants.

The newspaper probe found that Seongnam Cultural Foundation in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, has five suspicious employees - two nephews, a son and a daughter with ties to officials.

“When I was a mayor of Bucheon, I heard an allegation that some relatives of government officials were hired in an unfair way,” said Kim Young-sook, a member of the Democratic Party.

Bucheon Facilities Management Cooperation, an organization run by Bucheon city government, has 24 people who are close to influential figures in government, the newspaper found.

The organization said it hired them without the required state test.

“When I was working for Osan city government, Gyeonggi, as vice mayor, I found out that some unqualified people are working in affiliated organizations run by city,” said Lee Jin-su, a current head of Investment and Commerce Headquarters in Gyeonggi Province. “I changed the recruiting system ... because I thought it [was an unfair method] recruiting children of the rich and the elite only.”

After he adopted the required testing system, he found that the number of applicants soared 30 times and he ended up hiring more competent people.

Seoul National University is also alleged by the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea to have employed 69 graduates in jobs from 2006 to 2009. The board plans an investigation.

By Chung Young-jin, Yu Kil-yong [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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