Foreign ministry unveils road map to tackle closed, male-dominated organization

By Yonhap
  • Published : Sept 29, 2017 - 10:18
  • Updated : Sept 29, 2017 - 10:56
South Korea's foreign ministry said Friday that it will fill up to 20 percent of its manager-level positions with women under the current Moon Jae-in administration.

The ministry also plans to launch a new office that will serve as a control tower to coordinate its diplomatic polices, while consolidating divisions and teams doing similar work as part of efforts to streamline its structure.

They are part of a self-reform road map unveiled Friday after its monthslong review of what needs to be done to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the ministry frequently criticized for elitism and exclusivism.
Foreign minister Kang Kyung-hwa (Yonhap)

The ministry has 51 women in its manager-level positions, which accounts for a mere 8 percent of the total. Under the road map, it plans to raise the ratio to 20 percent, or around 120 women, by May 2022, when the current administration leaves.

In a bid to enhance efficiency, it will launch the so-called diplomatic strategy planning office that will serve as a policy control tower. Currently, the ministry has a policy planning office, but it will be turned into the new one with more authority and power.

The ministry also said that it will merge up to 10 divisions and teams deemed to be doing similar work into five in order to streamline its structure and assign personnel secured from the organizational consolidation for better use.

To provide better consular services, the ministry said that it will expand and upgrade the current consular affairs bureau and assign at least one employee at each overseas mission tasked with responding to any accidents and complaints involving Korean people overseas.

The ministry also plans to employ outside experts for up to 30 percent of heads of its overseas missions.

To strengthen the overall diplomatic infrastructure, the ministry noted that it will push to increase its workforce and budget "steadily" and "systematically" over the next five years.

Those measures are based on the work of an innovation task force the ministry launched in July. It has collected public opinion and proposals from inside and held debates with an advisory group consisting of experts from civic groups, businesses and relevant government agencies.

Since her inauguration in June, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha has underlined the need to create a foreign service workforce with more diverse backgrounds and capabilities, different from the closed and male-dominated organization.

Kang, a former UN policy adviser, is the first female foreign minister in South Korea and also the first case in 14 years in which the ministry is headed by a person who didn't start as a career diplomat.

"I expect that the road map we unveiled today will be faithfully enforced in a way that it will lay the groundwork for us to carry out diplomacy in which national interest is at its center and also we have public trust," Kang told reporters.

The ministry said that it will run a team that will oversee the implementation of the reform measures by their respective deadlines.  (Yonhap)