Personnel Management Policies

of the Korean Government

14 March, 2022

By Teresa Joy Tayao Gochingco, 2021 GMPA Student(SDGs)

Personnel Management Policies

of the Korean Government

Many government officials see themselves above the ordinary citizens of the country. Why? Because of the rigid exam, they went through to get into government work? Because of the badge of honor it provides when they say where they work? We will never know the exact answer as there are countless reasons why that happens, but one thing is for sure: the South Korean government is continuously reforming its personnel management policies to break the stigma of government officials being above the citizens of the country and seeking transparency to gain the people’s trust at the same time extending pride among Korean civil servants.

Minister Kim Woo-Ho from the Ministry of Personnel Management walked us through the demographics of the South Korean government; reforms the ministry is undertaking from recruitment to salary system; and the blueprint for innovating the personnel management system of the country.

The Korean government has a centralized recruitment system based on exams that are highly competitive for both the high-ranking (Grade 5) and low-ranking exams (Grade 9). The Ministry is trying to shift to ministry-based recruitment wherein the ministries themselves can appoint and recruit people for certain positions and is trying to open positions to civilians who have experience fit for the government post.

Another point Minister Kim mentioned was that the salary system in the government is a seniority-based or service time-based system from which they are trying to move towards a performance-based or jobs test salary system which determines the appropriate job description for each work category in the ministries.

The ministry is trying to eradicate rigidity in the system by encouraging more generalized skills as they try to rotate people from one job to another within the ministry, they respectively work in. Furthermore, the ministry provides training for people targeting the needs they needed to enhance for the benefit of the person and the ministries.

As for transparency, all officials above Grade 4 need to register all their assets, and those who wish to shift to private work and who are retiring need to undergo a screening process to ensure the absence of conflict of interest.

A question raised on gender equality was important to highlight as we know that Asia has been a catch-basin for most patriarchal societies in the world. Currently, South Korea is trying to break this stigma by encouraging women to work in the government and even attain high-ranking positions in the ministries. It was good that Minister Kim mentioned that the target of appointing women to the 10 percent of the senior civil servant positions was achieved, particularly the deputy director positions. It was important to note that under his watch, the target of appointing women for high-ranking positions was raised to 25 percent in 5 years.

All things considered, the Ministry of Personnel Management is working on innovating the system by shifting from a centralized to a more individualized system catering to civilians with working experience suitable for the government placements, from seniority to a performance-based system making the compensation system of the officials more objective and trying to provide equal opportunities to women as to men.