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President Park should remove revolving door appointments first

President Park should remove revolving door appointments first

Updated May. 07, 2014 08:04

한국어

The ferry Sewol disaster revealed the existence of “Haefia”, a coined term which combines the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries Ministry (Haeyang Soosan Bu in Korean) and a mafia. President Park said, “The cause of this incident is long-entrenched abnormal practices and the culture of a back-scratching collusion between the government and businesses.” The president added, “I will reform the officialdom so that embarrassing words like “Gwanfia (officials (Gwan in Korean) plus mafia)” and “officials’ iron rice bowls can dissappear.” The deep-rooted evils have rather expanded under the Park administration, however.

As many as 141 “Gwanfias” were sent to 79 associations in industries, which are the key linkage between the government and businesses, for the recent three years. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport sent the largest number of retired officials (24) to associations, followed by the Ministry of Environment (13), the Financial Services Commission (12) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (12). Just as Korea Shipping Association and Korea Register of Shipping tolerated the excessive renovation and overloading of the ferry Sewol, other associations developed a close relationship between the government and businesses, which eases supervision by the government.

“Gwanfias” were sent to 18 entities or 47.4 percent of 38 entities that were designated as entities requiring “close monitoring for lax management” as part of the government’s reform plan on government-related institutions early this year. The designated entities are corporations that are excessively generous about the bonuses of the management and benefits for the employees. Former officials of the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy were sent to Korea Trade Insurance Corporation and Korea Electric Power Corporation, and former officials of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance to the Korea Exchange and Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation. The average compensation of the head of government-related companies is around 500 million won (485,600 US dollars), and that of the head of Incheon Port Authority, Korea Marine Environment Management Corporation, and Busan Port Authority, which are under the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, is over 200 million won (194,270 dollars). The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport sent its retired officials to Korea Land and Housing Corporation and Korea Rail Network Authority, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs sent its former officials to Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation.

If those who contributed to President Park’s election and pro-Park politicians are added, the number of the “revolving-door employment” gets higher. As of the end of February, the first anniversary of President Park’s inauguration, out of 121 newly appointed heads of government-related corporations, 32 are from President Park’s presidential election camp and pro-Park politicians, and 45 are “Gwanfias.” President Park said that there would be no revolving-door employment under the new administration but it was all talk. Pro-Park politicians and “Gwanfias” penetrated into the key positions of companies which are standing auditors and non-standing directors.

As the public criticizes “Gwanfias,” the government said it would strengthen the regulation on retired officials’ employment under the Public Service Ethics Act. As the ferry disaster revealed, practices are not changed by laws and regulations. Unless President Park stops the “revolving-door appointment,” the president’s promise on the Buddha’s birthday that she would correct irregularities and evils that are deep-rooted in our society will be an empty talk.