Time to investigate

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Time to investigate

Three opposition parties — the Liberty Korea Party, Bareunmirae Party and Peace Party — have agreed to jointly petition for a parliamentary probe on Seoul Metro and other public institutions for illicit hiring. The three opposition parties deemed similar hiring practices could be rampant at public institutions and decided to make the call. Ruling Democratic Party floor leader Hong Young-pyo refused to comply with the motion, claiming the Board of Audit and Inspection should conduct a probe first. He criticized the opposition for launching a “reckless political offensive.”

Young people are paddling hopelessly against strong headwinds while looking for jobs. The jobless rate for people aged 15 to 29 hovered at 8.8 percent at of the end of September. More than two out of 10 people under 30 are without or in between jobs. State-run think tank Korea Development Institute stressed that the spike in the jobless rate this year resulted from the sharp surge in labor costs after the minimum wage increase and not from demographic and other factors.

The exposure of widespread nepotism at Seoul Metro and others only added to their grief. Suspicions about favoritism in hiring has spread to affiliates of Incheon International Airport, Korea Gas Corporation and a unit of Korea Electric Power Corporation, to name a few.
We are not opposed to upgrading the position of contract workers in the public sector. But if benefits largely go to family members of employees, this is a serious problem.

The public institutions in question and Seoul city are trying to turn the scandal into a political attack. Seoul Metro issued a notice to its employees, warning them not to talk to the media during the National Assembly’s regular audit session. If it is innocent, why is Seoul Metro trying to silence its employees?

Park criticized the opposition for discrediting the policy of upgrading the status of contract workers in Seoul Metro. The militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) also jumped in, claiming that there was no evidence or grounds to accuse Seoul Metro of malpractice and favoritism beyond the status upgrades. Instead, it claimed chaebols were worse when it comes to handing down business across generations.

Only an objective and transparent probe can solve the issue. A society has no future if it cannot answer the rage of the young people.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 23, Page 30
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