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First the trip, then the fall

Dec 19,2017
A set of government measures on cryptocurrency trade was leaked to the public after government officials shared the outline on the Kakao Talk messaging platform ahead of the official release. An official of the National Customs Service took photos of the documents and posted them two hours and 39 minutes before they were released to the press. The actions, aimed to contain speculation, only ended up stoking wild market volatility.

According to Heinrich’s Law, “in a workplace, for every accident that causes a major injury, there are 29 accidents that cause minor injuries and 300 accidents that cause no injuries.” In short, the neglect of minor incidents could lead to major accidents.

Administrative offices have been scattered in Seoul, Sejong, Gwancheon and Daejon, leading to slack discipline and effectiveness in public service. The Sejong administrative complex has been at work for five years, but remains dysfunctional because the senior officials, including the ministers, are mostly away in Seoul.

Government offices without their chiefs are like classrooms without teachers. Their work connectivity and efficiency has weakened, as bureaucrats cannot maintain needed connections with the private sector.

Reports have become common via social media because of this physical distance. The National Intelligence Service suspects North Koreans were behind four cryptocurrency-related hacking cases this year. The loopholes in the bureaucratic community can further undermine confidence in public policies.

According to Max Weber, bureaucracy is a “system of administration characterized by expertness, impartiality and the absence of humanity.” That cannot excuse bureaucrats for their complacency and incompetence. The government must reexamine public service discipline and establish a more efficient system in order to minimize accidents.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 19, Page 34