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President wages war on corruption in government

Mar 20,2018
President Moon Jae-in underscored an eradication of entrenched corruption as a springboard to widespread government reform during a meeting with heads of government agencies on Monday.

At the first meeting on government strategy for innovation at the Central Government Complex in central Seoul, Moon emphasized, “The government’s top priority for innovation, to put it simply, is to restore the public nature of the government and civil office, which is the starting point of preventing corruption.” He recalled that people often witnessed public offices being used for personal interest under the previous two administrations of Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak, led by the Blue House at the top.

The result, he said, was the impeachment of Park. “Our government holds the spirit of the candlelight protests as our goal to realize state affairs,” Moon said, referring to the protests that brought down Park.

Moon emphasized making a government “that sincerely exists for the public,” where public office does not take from the people. He called it the “foundation” of government reform.

The president also detailed concrete measures to deal with corruption in hiring practices. He called on agency heads to help those who fail to get hired or have their employment revoked because of unfair hiring practices such as tampering with results or rankings. This would be the “start of establishing fairness and impartiality in hiring practices,” he said.

Last Thursday, Moon ordered the firing of all 226 Kangwon Land employees who landed their jobs through unfair processes and connections with powerful figures. The move was the result of a government probe late last year that uncovered unfair hiring practices at the country’s only casino.

The meeting of about 180 attendees included ministers, local government officials and Blue House aides.

Some participants included Hong Nam-ki, minister in the Office for Government Policy Coordination; Lee Hyo-seong, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission; Kim Sang-jo, chairman of the Fair Trade Commission; and Choi Jong-ku, chairman of the Financial Services Commission.

Moon also emphasized the need to promote more women to senior government positions, underscoring that “eradicating sexual violence in relation to abuse of power is the continued task of this new era.”

His remark comes amid the spread of Me Too in Korea. The movement has left no part of society untouched and brought down figures in the arts, religion, academia and politics.

“Public offices have to first set an example so that women can break the glass ceiling, and we can create a world where everyone is respected and no one is discriminated against,” Moon said.

Eradicating accumulated evils, exposing corruption, punishing sexual misconduct, reforming administrative terminology and creating laws that are easy to understand are all part of public-sector innovation, Moon said.

“The standards of our people are very high, and our politics and administration have been rather subpar,” he said. “We must not forget that we have the right to a government which meets the standards of the people, and governmental innovation is to meet such a demand.”

BY KANG TAE-HWA, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]