Recruiting scandals a cancer to society
Last year, 621,336 people took the College Scholastic Ability Test. Further, 167,035 have applied to take the examination to become a certified realtor on Oct. 27, and 147,161 people applied to the ninth-grade central government civil servant exam in July. Given the numbers of those applicants, Samsung’s open recruitment test is a national phenomenon.
Thousands of men and women walked into testing sites in middle and high schools over the weekend, and their tense faces are a common scene in Korea. I was one of them 30 years ago. I had applied to a company and took a test for the newspaper. The public corporation required a personal reference from a “member of the social elite,” and having few connections, I was not able to join the company.
Some of my friends had an even harder time. Those who were involved in student movements could not even apply or wouldn’t have been accepted. No matter how proficient their English skills were and how talented they were, companies and newspapers did not hire those with previous convictions.
During the authoritarian rule of the “Fifth Republic” under President Chun Doo Hwan, a friend was unexpectedly hired by a large conglomerate. We celebrated his success, but he said that the Agency for National Security Planning, the predecessor of the National Intelligence Service, contacted him and advised him to apply to the company. The agent said that the company was expecting him. He was not the only one. The agency arranged employment for the student activists to prevent them from becoming a “socially unstable group” if they could not make a decent living.
Samsung is also concerned that its recruitment process is attracting an overwhelming number of applicants. However, many of the 100,000 young applicants feel that they are lucky to at least have a chance to apply. Youth unemployment is far more serious than 30 years ago, and the irregular and special hiring through diverse connections and networks at public corporations and institutions take away opportunities completely.
Trying to maintain the system, the intelligence agency during the dictatorial regime arranged employment opportunities to keep society together. Public institutions with corrupt recruitment systems are now worse than the intelligence agency. The Daegu National Science Museum was caught for unlawful recruitment, and 33 public institutions give considerable benefits to family members of employees according to the collective agreement between management and labor. That’s cancerous in our society, discouraging young job seekers and undermining the fundamentals of a society.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by NOH JAE-HYUN