Almost 60 percent of workers in Korea are hired through personal connections rather than strictly transparent recruitment procedures. Research based on 2003-2007 data compiled by the Korea Labor Institute shows that 56.4 percent of 6,165 people who found jobs did so by using their network of personal contacts, according to the state-run Korea Development Agency.
The favored route was through friends or relatives with 37 percent, followed by acquaintances already working in a company they want to join (7.8 percent) and contacts made through work (7.9 percent). Family (2.2 percent) and teachers (1.6 percent) were not very useful in landing new jobs.
Among conventional methods, the Internet (17.7 percent) and recruitment ads (11.7 percent) were the most popular channels for finding work. Public or private job search agencies were rarely used, with only 1 percent and 2.6 percent of jobseekers relying on them
The study also shows that 39.9 percent of rookie workers landed their first job through personal contacts, the figure rose to 60.1 percent among experienced workers who switched jobs.
The dependency on personal connections is higher than in other countries. According to the International Social Survey Program, the average dependency on connections to find jobs in its 29 member nations is 45.6 percent. The percentage appears to be lower the more advanced a country's economy is.
The KDI report called for greater social and systemic support to achieve more transparent hiring practices. Kim said the advanced nations where personal contacts are less decisive tend to have better social infrastructure.
Average spending on public employment services compared to GDP is 0.16 percent in the OECD but only 0.02 percent or one-eighth in Korea.