Seoul gov’t hires youths as subsidies are waylaid

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Seoul gov’t hires youths as subsidies are waylaid

As the Seoul city government’s program to offer monthly cash allowances to unemployed or underemployed young adults has been put on hold by a legal battle with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the city government may be looking to hire some 500 to 600 of them instead for a few months to work at the city government and its affiliated organizations.

“While the Seoul Metropolitan Government cannot right now provide cash allowances to the 3,000 recipients of the city government’s youth subsidy program,” said a Seoul city government official, “it will continue to find ways to support the young adults of the city, like providing an opportunity for them to work.”

The Seoul city government is looking to connect some 500 to 600 recipients of the youth subsidy to its existing welfare program, Youth New Deal, which hires young adults for a few months at a time within the city government and its affiliated organizations.

Through the program, more than 1,000 young adults in Seoul between the ages of 18 and 39 are currently employed at the Seoul city government and its affiliated organizations, earning some 1.2 million won ($1,072) to 1.3 million won per month. The annual program provided temporary jobs to some 1,600 young adults from 2013 to 2015.

“The city government expects some 500 to 600 recipients of the youth subsidy will be interested in being part of the Youth New Deal program,” said the official. “We will be getting in touch with each recipient personally at the end of this month or early next month and ask if they are interested.”

The Seoul city government on Aug. 3 distributed the first cash allowance to the 2,831 recipients who signed agreements with the government. Each recipient received half a million won.

The payments are part of a five-year program called the Seoul Youth Guarantee, intended to support unemployed and underemployed young adults. The city set aside some 9 billion won to provide 3,000 recipients with 500,000 won per month for up to six months.

The Health Ministry shut down the program the next day, calling it an illegal welfare policy without official consent from the ministry, and one that can incite regional discrimination and “immorality” by giving cash to unemployed young adults in the city.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government has since filed a lawsuit to the Supreme Court to reverse the Welfare Ministry’s decision, and an injunction to suspend the program’s termination. But even if the court decides in favor of the city government, all subsidy distributions for the 3,000 recipients have meanwhile been put on hold.

“If the Seoul city government wins the case,” said the official, “then the cash allowances that are now suspended will be handed out, not all at once but in proportions, monthly.”

While the Health Ministry requested the city government to recollect subsidies handed out to some 2,800 recipients in August, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said it is not in its authority to do so. The Seoul city government will also be providing one-on-one consulting services to the recipients in the meanwhile to help them prepare for job interviews or polish off their resumes.

BY LEE SOO-KI, SEO JUN-SUK, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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