One of the social consensuses reached in the wake of the Sewol ferry disaster is that Korea should curb the revolving door employment that fosters collusive links between the government and the private sector.
All, from President Park Geun-hye to opposition leaders and families of victims of the sunk ferry, stressed the importance of rooting out the practice that has been cited as a primary causes of the maritime disaster. But some from powerful agencies still exploit loopholes and take high-paid jobs in the private sector.
The most troubling case involves a senior official who retired from the Fair Trade Commission and landed a job as the head of an antitrust unit of a law firm. The official tendered his resignation from the FTC last November because he was found to have received money and played free rounds of golf with businesspeople when he was working at the presidential office.
Neither Cheong Wa Dae nor the FTC took any disciplinary action, and the FTC accepted his resignation, which paved the way for him to seek employment with the law firm. Officials at the Civil Service Ethics Commission, which reviews the employment of retired officials, said he was eligible for employment under the current Civil Service Ethics Law because he resigned “voluntarily” without receiving any disciplinary action.
This case offers a stark contrast with that of a Finance Ministry official who was punished by the ministry for similar misdeeds he had committed while working at Cheong Wa Dae. Because of the disciplinary action, this official could not seek any employment for five years.
The Civil Service Ethics Commission also came under criticism for allowing a former senior official at the Board of Audit and Inspection to become the auditor of the Financial Supervisory Service. This is another typical case of revolving door employment.
In fact, retirees from the BAI, the nation’s supreme auditing agency, have landed jobs in various public agencies, public corporations, financial institutions and private companies, many of which are subject to the board’s audits.
These cases strengthen the need to expedite the legislative work to revise the Civil Service Ethics Law, which is aimed at toughening employment rules for retired government officials. The National Assembly must act quickly on the revision bill drawn up after the Sewol disaster.