Korea's Bloated Public Sector Fails Every Test

      January 08, 2021 13:36

      Heavy snowfall caused chaos during the evening rush hour on Wednesday in Seoul and across the country. Commuting times that normally take between 40 to 50 minutes stretched to four or five hours as snowy roads across the country caused massive traffic gridlocks. Many people parked their cars on the side of the road and opted to trek home instead, while long queues formed in front of hotels and other lodgings. The next morning traffic congestion was back. Seoul city officials went into emergency mode at 7:20 p.m. on Wednesday, but clearing the snow proved difficult as 7 cm of snow had already blanketed many parts of the city by that time and the streets were already filled with commuter traffic. But the Korea Meteorological Administration had informed city officials at 1 p.m. Wednesday to prepare for heavy snow, and they dragged their heels for more than six hours.

      That is not the only thing that has angered Seoul citizens. The Traffic Broadcasting System, a radio station under the Seoul city government, did not even bother to issue snow alerts but continued airing political and entertainment programs. TBS' "Kim Eo-jun's News Factory," a program hosted by the leftwing political commentator, is essentially a mouthpiece of the Moon Jae-in administration and, worse, the creation of ex-Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, who committed suicide last year following allegations of sexual assault brought by his former secretary. Taxpayers' money accounted for 77 percent of TBS' budget of W50.5 billion last year (US$1=W1,091). But it looks like the radio station is more interested in pleasing the government than in providing timely information to its employer, the people.

      Moon promised in his New Year's address that he will make sure that people are able to "return to their everyday lives." But the snow earlier this week proved that this is a pipe dream. Since Moon took office, the number of civil servants has swelled by 90,000, 14 times more than during the Lee Myung-bak administration and triple the growth during the Park Geun-hye administration. Even as Korea's population shrinks, the civil service keeps becoming more bloated. When he took office, the president he pledged to increase the number of civil servants by 170,000 during his tenure. That is the only idea he has to create jobs -- put them all on the state's payroll. The bonanza will cost taxpayers W327 trillion over the next 30 years. The government has already hired hundreds of thousands of part-time workers who get paid by the hour doing unnecessary work. Where were they during the snow chaos? Why does the public have to pay for the salaries and pensions of such people?

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