Former government officials will be banned from high-ranking posts at private universities, the Education Ministry said Wednesday.
According to the ministry, officials have agreed to revise the Public Service Ethics Act to include private universities among the institutions that cannot hire civil servants. The current law prohibits former civil servants from seeking a job at institutions such as major private enterprises, law firms and accounting firms.
Officials from the top four grades of Korea’s nine-tier civil service will be subject to the policy.
The new rule has been made is in response to a criticism about the widespread practice of giving special favors to retired state officials. It has been customary for universities to hire former top officials from the Education Ministry as presidents.
According to Rep. Yoo Ki-hong of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, 10 of 14 former vice education ministers from 2000 to present landed university chief jobs after they retired. Universities have been accused of hiring the former officials to use as “human shields” from state inspections.
While officials said it was almost certain that former officials would be banned from top posts, such as university president and vice president, they were still undecided on whether to ban them from becoming professors as well.
The new move is widely interpreted as one of the ripple effects following the sinking of the Sewol ferry, which revealed extensive corruption between civil servants and the private sector.
The fatal incident and subsequent investigation found that companies’ marine transport businesses hired a large number of high-ranking former officials of the Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries, effectively establishing a network of corruption between the bureaucrats and the private sector called “gwanpia.”
The corrupt bureaucrats applied loose regulations for the companies in exchange for the promise of a job after they have left office.
In the wake of the Sewol ferry disaster, the public has called for the government to eradicate such practices.
By Yoon Min-sik (email@example.com)