The Korea Herald


Majority of Koreans distrust government: OECD study

By 이다영

Published : Aug. 9, 2015 - 18:47

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Almost 70 percent of South Koreans distrust their government, while less than 30 percent of them are confident in the nation’s judicial system, a report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed on Sunday.

According to Government at a Glance 2015 report, which surveyed 1,000 citizens in each OECD country, only 34 percent of the Koreans who participated in the research last year answered “yes” to the question “Do you have confidence in your national government?”

Korea’s rate was significantly lower than the OECD average, which was 41.8 percent, as well as a number of developing nations including Indonesia (65 percent) and Brazil (36 percent). The countries who rated lower than Korea on the index included Slovenia (18 percent), Greece (19 percent) and Poland (25 percent).
South Korean President Park Geun-hye (Yonhap) South Korean President Park Geun-hye (Yonhap)

“Trust in government represents the confidence of citizens and businesses in the actions of governments to do what is right and perceived as fair,” the report said. “Changes in trust levels could be affected by many factors, including the economic outlook, political changes (e.g. elections), or other major events such as disasters or major scandals (e.g. corruption cases).”

Although Korea’s latest confidence rate was low, it marked an increase by 10 percentage points since 2007.

Meanwhile, the average confidence level in governments across OECD countries dropped by 3.3 percentage points in that period, from 45.2 percent to 41.8 percent from 2007-2014. The steepest declines took place in Slovenia (down 30 percentage points), Finland (29 points) and Spain (27 points).

“Restoring trust in governments is essential to reinforce and consolidate the foundations of modern states,” the report said. “It is also a necessary condition for governments to successfully carry out public sector reforms.”

The report also showed that only 29 percent of Koreans were confident in their judicial system as of 2013, much lower than the OECD average of 54 percent. Korea’s rate in fact dropped by two percentage points since 2007.

According to the OECD, one’s confidence in his or her country’s judicial system is both “an outcome and a key governance dimension, most closely related to integrity.”

Absence of a strong rule of law -- the idea that no one, including the government, is above the law and justice is accessible to all -- makes it difficult for states to cultivate peaceful and inclusive societies, the report said.

Countries with low confidence in judicial systems are also more likely to generate either speculative investment or low-capital investments, which can threaten national growth and development, it noted.

The report also showed that 53 percent of Koreans are satisfied with the country’s education and school system, which is below the OECD average of 67 percent.

By Claire Lee (