Many Korean government officials switching to join private sector

2023.03.10 09:57:01 | 2023.03.10 10:02:07

[Photos by Kim Ho-young]이미지 확대

[Photos by Kim Ho-young]



Key government officials at ministries from economy and trade to foreign affairs are leaving to join private companies as growing global economic uncertainties and the mounting tensions between the U.S. and China have increased the need for advisers to help them navigate through these sensitive issues.

According to multiple sources from the government on Thursday, a director of energy at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is preparing for a retirement to join a large private company as an executive. Song Yong-sik, a director of innovative administration at the industry ministry also left on Monday to work for Hanwha Energy Corp. as an executive director.

“Manpower exchange between the public and private sectors is needed for sure but many government officials quitting to join the private sector may lead to an overall decline in competitiveness of public offices when the government’s role continues to be important,” said Im To-bin, professor at Seoul National University.

Many director-level officials at the industry ministry joined top companies like Samsung Electronics Co., Lotte Corp. and Doosan Group last year where they are responsible for regulatory and government affairs, interaction with the National Assembly and strategic planning.

Many former government officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and trade ministry are overseeing Samsung Electronics’ regulatory business.

Many financial authority officials are moving out as well.

A former director at the Financial Services Commission left the public sector after he was recruited as an executive director of Meritz Fire & Marine Insurance Co. last year. Many secretaries have also joined as executives at Hanwha Life Insurance Co. and Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance Co.

Young public workers or deputy directors at ministries are also changing jobs. Deputy directors at the finance ministry and FSC joined Dunamu, the operator of Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Upbit, last year.

Experts note that there are several reasons for the outflow, which include the long commute between Seoul and the administrative center Sejong City as well as relatively low pay.

By Song Gwang-sup, Chung Seung-hwan, and Lee Eun-joo

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