Over 90 percent of the beneficiaries of government awards in the first half of 2014 were civil servants, a Saenuri lawmaker said Wednesday.
A total of 13,117 people received orders, medals and commendations from January to June of this year, and 91.8 percent ― or 12,044 of these ― are currently working for the government, according to Rep. Kang Gi-yun. The data was presented by the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.
The majority of the recipients were office workers and education workers, accounting for 5,303 and 4,150, respectively. But the smallest number of rewards among government employees ― a meager 162 ― were given to firefighters, whose poor working conditions have often been a topic of criticism.
Over the past five years, ordinary citizens received 16-20 percent of the government awards.
The government awards system aims to decorate citizens of Korea or its allies for their excellent contributions to the country. But the high percentage of government officials among the recipients has fueled suspicion that the officials are merely using the system to benefit themselves.
Rep. Kang said awards for civil servants must be presented according to their contributions, instead of handing out rewards simply because they retired without a criminal record.
“The custom of presenting the awards mostly to civil servants is a remnant of the past, when government officials were poorly treated,” he said, urging the Home Affairs Ministry to revise the system so that more citizens can benefit from it.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)