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2015-08-17 16:52

By Jung Min-ho


The social status of parents tends to influence the job prospects of young people seeking work, according to a number of studies. This has even greater significance in Korea, where some parents with political or economic influence directly ask companies to hire their children.

That is exactly what Rep. Yoon Hu-duk from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy is believed to have done for his daughter, a lawyer who got a job at LG Display in 2013 under questionable circumstances.

His daughter, fresh from a law school that year, sent her resume to the firm when it was looking for a lawyer with at least four years of experience in the field of fair trade.

Yoon reportedly called the company CEO Han Sang-beom and said that his daughter had applied for the position. The company later changed its plan and decided to hire two lawyers, including his daughter.

After the issue made headlines, the lawmaker admitted that the allegations against him were true and made a public apology.

Yet the Seoul Bar Association believes that his apology was not sufficient. It is asking the National Assembly to call an ethics committee to punish Yoon immediately.

Some lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party also joined the chorus. Rep. Lee No-keun said an ethics committee should be held as soon as possible. “Everyone has someone they want to help. As a public figure, however, he should not have done it,” he said. “The issue must be taken seriously.”

Such malpractice in employment is hardly rare in Korea. During the corruption probe into former senior presidential secretary for education Park Bum-hoon earlier this year, investigators found that he allegedly pressured Chung-Ang University and Yong In University to hire his two daughters as professors.

This is a sensitive issue for a majority of young job-seekers who are struggling in a tough job market.

According to Statistics Korea, the unemployment rate for young people is the highest in 15 years. Among those employed, nearly half of them have low-paying, precarious jobs.

Although such corruption in the recruitment process is ethically wrong, Korea does not have laws preventing this.

Many critics suspect that it is in companies’ interest to hire children of powerful politicians in order to create ties with them. Indeed, many companies still require job applicants to provide family information, including what their parents do and how much their income is.

It has been over a decade since the National Human Rights Commission advised companies not to require applicants to disclose information unrelated to job performance in 2003. But little has changed.

Asking for such information for jobs is considered illegal and could result in a lawsuit in many developed countries, including the United States and Canada.

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