Has anything changed?The results from a joint government investigation into the hiring practices of 1,205 public entities were dumbfounding. The investigation found 182 cases of illegal recruitment and referred 36 of them to prosecution for further review. The government demanded punishment or disciplinary action for 146 others with problematic hiring procedures.
The comprehensive probe was sparked by suspicions over nepotism at Seoul Metro that were raised during a parliamentary hearing last fall. Government offices joined forces to conduct a three-month investigation, mostly focusing on illegal hiring and promotions after the last government review in October 2017.
All the possible irregularities took place. The children and relatives of senior executives at public corporations skipped mandatory screenings or tests to get in as contract-based employees in the first place. Later, they were promoted to permanent payrolls. Some of the family members of employees were recruited by getting high scores on interviews despite their poor grades in earlier stages. Hereditary employment was also rampant. It is no wonder getting a job at a public corporation has been so difficult for young people.
Public enterprises were devoid of public duties and fairness.
They were even worse than private companies. The public is outraged by the news and is calling for strong penalties for gravely undermining its constitutional right to fair opportunity. It attacked the liberal government that promised fairness and justice above all.
The government measures fell short of alleviating public anger. It vowed annual investigations of such cases and to post the names of new hires related to existing employees on each company’s homepage. It also will consider a revision of the law to restrict preferential treatment to family members of government employees.
Yet that is not enough. Some people are questioning the government’s will. The irregularities of Seoul Metro were exposed after the case of illegal hiring at Kangwon Land was revealed. Both cases have not progressed because the Board of Audit and Inspection is dragging its feet.
These hiring irregularities are serious crimes because they strip the opportunities and dreams of the country’s young people. Zero tolerance must be applied so that no one dares even think of illicit recruitment, particularly in the public sector.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 21, Page 30