Academy to recruit diplomats in 2013

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Academy to recruit diplomats in 2013

A new recruitment system for diplomats will be used beginning in 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said yesterday.

The new system will better prepare recruits and more efficiently weed out those who lack the necessary skills, the ministry said.

The new system, to be managed by the National Foreign Service Academy, will begin operating after the final sitting of the current High Diplomatic Service Examination scheduled for the first half of 2013. The academy will be an affiliate of the ministry.

Beginning in the second half of 2013, the ministry will assemble an academy class of up to 1.5 times the number of junior diplomats needed for the following year.

The class will have been evaluated through a three-stage process involving foreign language tests, aptitude tests, essay writing and interviews.

The class will enroll in a one-year, three semester program at the academy in December 2013. The ones who perform the best there will be appointed as fifth-level foreign affairs officials.

The current recruitment system, heavily dependent on the rote-based High Diplomatic Service Examination, has long been criticized for producing unqualified diplomats who lack language skills and other traits such as negotiation ability and quick judgment.

A senior official of the ministry said the one-year education program at the service would make a significant difference.

“It would run three semesters without vacation and require many assignments on various subjects, all of which are oriented toward evaluating capacity and potential rather than knowledge,” the official said.

Some question the efficiency of the new recruitment system saying that dropping only one-third of the entering class is not much different from the current recruiting process.

Currently, the ministry selects 1.3 times the number of people it needs as new junior diplomats and cuts some through interviews. Some in the government think the academy should offer an academic degree and make the incoming classes even larger.

“It appears the government has compromised because the service would not provide an academic degree,” said an official of the ministry, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

There is no government policy yet to arrange jobs for those who enroll at the academy but fail to become diplomats, although ministry officials said they could get jobs with relative ease using the skills they acquire at the academy.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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