Favoritism rife at Foreign Ministry

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Favoritism rife at Foreign Ministry

Skeletons tumbled out of the foreign ministry’s closet yesterday after the Ministry of Public Administration and Security announced the results of an investigation into a recent nepotism scandal.

After the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade came under fire for tailoring job specifications for former Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan’s daughter, the Public Administration Ministry conducted investigations of 17 children of high-ranking diplomats hired by the Foreign Ministry after 2000. Because they were hired through the special selection process, the individuals were not required to take the Foreign Service Exam. Some of the 17 children no longer work at the ministry.

According to the investigation, the Foreign Ministry did not obtain records of English language capabilities from ten children of high-ranking civil servants and diplomats who applied for ministry positions. A woman surnamed Park, the daughter of a high-ranking diplomat’s acquaintance, was hired in 2006 without any official English certification.

The investigation also found that the interviewers selected by the foreign ministry were individuals who favored the officials’ children.

For the interview of the daughter of former Board of Audit and Inspection head Jeon Yun-churl, the ministry did not follow the required procedures to appoint job interviewers.

All diplomats are rotated to different destinations outside Korea every few years to ensure fair work distribution. But many diplomats, who have Foreign Ministry executives as fathers, were discovered to have been favored, being dispatched to popular postings with disregard to the rotation rules. Six out of eight executives’ children were placed in highly popular postings, such as the Korean Embassy in the United States, the UN and the Korean Embassy in Japan. Some were even found to have enrolled in law schools during their postings abroad.

Another case involved a woman surnamed Hong, the daughter of a former ambassador. Hong was hired as a fifth-grade civil servant through the special selection process in 2006, after being previously deemed unqualified for the position. As a result, the person who received the job before her was demoted to a sixth-grade position. Hong’s husband was hired in a similar way during the following year.

The Public Administrative Ministry said during yesterday’s announcement that officials who had been in charge of personnel affairs and abused the system would be replaced after appropriate measures are taken to pinpoint those responsible.


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

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