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There was a recent article saying that many of the examiners for Korea’s national college entrance exam are from a specific university, making it difficult to catch errors in the questions as it can be awkward for peers from the same background to point out mistakes.
The allegations surrounding national statistics manipulation during the previous Moon Jae-in government falls into a similar category as the allegations are proof that there was no one around in the presidential office or those in power to say “no” to the alleged statistical manipulation that destroys national trust.
This may be due to the influential figures within the government who shared similar ideologies and state philosophies forming their own cartel and exerting a strong defense mechanism.
At the time, the presidential office and key figures in the administration regarded income-led growth and housing price control as their top priorities. Moon even declared that he was confident in handling real estate issues.
As their beliefs showed signs of failure, however, they resorted to desperate measures, without admitting they were wrong.
They instead repeatedly pressed Statistics Korea and Korea Real Estate Board as income and housing price indicators showed no signs of improvement.
They reportedly manipulated statistics to make it appear as if household incomes were rising and housing price growth figures were falling.
If the allegations of their deception, as suggested by the Board of Audit and Inspection, turn out to be true, it would be a severe breach of national trust.
One academic organization highlighted group polarization as the most important social psychological phenomenon to watch in Korea this year.
Group polarization refers to the tendency for groups with similar opinions to become more extreme in their views after discussions than they were before. It seems that this bias was at play in the Moon administration.
One way to prevent this is to have a devil’s advocate in a group of like-minded individuals. Placing a contrarian viewpoint in a group susceptible to extreme bias can help prevent it.
In any organization, checks and balances are what keep it healthy. Creating an organization solely composed of people with the same ideas can lead to a risk of bias. Decisions then flow in a single direction.
There is no guarantee that the Yoon Suk Yeol administration will be an exception.
Many point to biased personnel appointments as one of the administration’s vulnerabilities in its second year in power.
The Yoon administration should think carefully about the concern that an elite group of people, mostly from certain universities and regions, are dominating its policy-making.
It is doubtful that a ruling circle that is bound together by seniority and academic ties will be receptive to healthy checks and diversity.
The U.S. used red teams during the Cold War. People with critical perspectives were deliberately included in White House meetings to find vulnerabilities and maintain a balanced decision-making process.
Samsung Group’s personnel policy is also in line with this.
The late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s mantra of talent first and the diversity of the company’s workforce has been the foundation of Samsung’s development.
By excluding academic and hierarchical ties and gathering talents from diverse backgrounds, Samsung Group has been able to achieve the best results.
In the run-up to next year’s general election, personnel factors are likely to play a significant role in various government agencies.
It is encouraged that Yoon’s national agenda during the Chuseok holiday includes a plan to recruit talented individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those with strong convictions who can point out the government’s mistakes.
By Hwang In-hyuk and Yoon Yeon-hae
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]