Foreign ministry to cut down on top paygrade posts in reform

SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha announced plans Thursday to reduce the number of vice ministerial and other top paygrade positions at diplomatic missions abroad by a quarter.

The move is part of efforts to reform and streamline the ministry as it campaigns to be reborn as a "work-oriented" body focusing on "the people and the national interest," she said at a press conference.

"(We) will eliminate 25 percent of the vice ministerial and other diplomatic mission chief posts at the highest paygrade," she said.

The ministry will instead hire more working-level staff, she added without providing details of a time frame or the specific jobs to be affected.

A ministry official later told reporters that the measure will be implemented in stages.

There are 13 heads of diplomatic missions abroad with the job level of vice minister and 80 others with the top-notch paygrade, he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

"We have no specific deadline. But it's expected to be done in three years, given the usual tenure (of those officials)," he said.

The key point is that 25 percent of them will be replaced by lower-ranking officials with proven records of capabilities, he added.

There will be no change in the number of the positions, and those with lower paygrades will be installed under the plan.

Kang is the first female leader of the ministry, which had long been dominated by male diplomats with certain school and work backgrounds.

The former newscaster and translator became a ministry official in 1999.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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