Seoul gov’t gives cash to unemployed youthThe Seoul Metropolitan Government on Wednesday doled out half a million won ($446) in cash to each recipient of its unemployed or underemployed young adults support program, provoking the ire of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which threatened to shut the program down.
The payments were part of a five-year program to support unemployed or underemployed young adults, called the Seoul Youth Guarantee.
The city set aside some 9 billion won in budget to provide 3,000 recipients with 500,000 won per month for up to six months.
On Wednesday, Seoul distributed the first cash to 2,831 recipients who signed agreements with the government.
The recipients are adults aged between 19 and 29 who have lived in Seoul for more than a year, who are working less than 30 hours per week.
“Many of these applicants are in a vicious cycle of having to earn money in order to study more to get more prestigious jobs,” the city government said in a press release.
“But they are losing time for study or preparing for job interviews because their current part-time jobs are too grueling.”
It added, “After analyzing the applications, the city government found that what these people are looking for in accepting financial aid is not the money itself but the time that money will buy for them.”
The Health Ministry, concerned about the moral issue of handing out cash to young adults, said the Seoul government was playing politics and issued a corrective order demanding it shut down the program.
“The ministry issues a corrective order to the Seoul Metropolitan Government policy of paying thousands of young adults cash,” it said in a press release Wednesday, “which is nothing more than a populist scheme to win over the hearts of young adults in difficult financial situations.”
It added, “Providing cash to unemployed or underemployed young adults in the city not only promotes moral laxity but simply is not a fundamental solution to the youth unemployment issue.”
The ministry said Seoul has until 9 a.m. today to make a report to the ministry on the corrective order.
“Should the city government refuse to comply with the corrective order,” the ministry added, “it will revoke all authority of the city government for its youth support program.”
It also asked the city government to take back its payments from the recipients Wednesday.
Seoul and the ministry have been discussing the youth support program since January, and reached a joint policy resolution in May, according to the city government.
But that agreement fell through in June when the ministry said it never approved the program.
“The city government sees the joint policy resolution as still in effect,” said Yang Ho-kyung, a program director of the Youth Policy Division of Seoul government, “and is ready to take the matter to court.”
BY ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]