Civil servants now believe themselves at a disadvantage compared to white-collar workers in terms of both social status and pay, a survey suggests.The Korea Institute of Public Administration polled 1,000 government workers last summer and found that 31.9 percent feel private-sector jobs confer a higher social status, while 31.4 percent feel the other way. The rest said the two are about equal or gave no answer.The institute has conducted the survey every three years since 1998, and this is the first time that those who feel their own status is inferior to private-sector workers outnumbered those who feel secure in the hacking order. As recently as 2019, the figures were 38 percent versus 18.4 percent.Respondents admitted that the comfortable pension is a great plus of the public sector, but only 41.7 percent in the latest survey said their jobs were better than private-sector positions.
As a result of massive corruption scandals over the last decade, civil servants are a little more limited in finding cushy new jobs after retirement. They are for instance banned from moving to private firms or organizations connected to their old field of work for three years. Pensions were also reduced as part of reforms in 2010 and 2016.One mid-ranking official in a government ministry said, "Despite the low pay, there used to be a feeling that public service is better in terms of satisfaction, honor and potential for accomplishment, but that's less widespread now."A senior official in another ministry said, "When I started this job, I felt a sense of pride even though the pay was less than I'd hoped for, but now I don't have that either."