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Basic information

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Basic Principles and Classification of public officials

The civil service personnel systems of the Republic of Korea are operated according to three basic principles: a "Democratic Civil Service System” that emphasizes the responsibility to serve the Korean people; a "Career Civil Service System" that recruits and hires talented young people who will devote their life to public service; and a "Merit System" that employs individuals strictly according to their credentials and abilities regardless of partisanship or favoritism.

There are about one million public servants in Korea, of whom 660,000 are national public officials and 380,000 are local officials (as of the end of 2017). Public servants are divided into the following categories: public officials in general service, in charge of technology, research and administration; public officials in special service, such as judges, prosecutors, teachers, and police and fire-fighting officers; and public officials in political service, who are elected officials or require the approval of the National Assembly to be appointed. In addition, public officials are divided into different grades, and public officials in general service consist of the Senior Civil Service (SCS) and grades 3 to 9.


We recruit new outstanding officials following fair procedures. Public officials are recruited through open competitive examinations. The open competitive examinations are aimed at securing a wide variety of talented people with potential by ensuring equal opportunity for every citizen to apply for a government job, regardless of age, gender, education or work experience. Open competitive examinations for grades 5, 7 and 9 are administered every year through written tests (once or twice) and interviews.

Experienced professionals are also recruited to fill positions that require a high level of expertise. This system recruits professionals with career credentials and academic degrees in a specific field and is implemented regularly or when necessary for all grades, including SCS.

With the aim of enhancing the expertise and competitiveness of the government, we are actively seeking to recruit more talent from the private sector in the civil service. The government-run headhunting system finds and recruits civilian experts of the highest level, in order to hire them in key positions, so that the right person works in the right place. In addition, we have compiled and continue to utilize a national talent database of talented professionals working in various fields, to enhance transparency and fairness in personnel management.

Public Officials in General Service

Public Officials in General Service

Annual recruitment of public officials

Annual recruitment of public officials

Introduction to Civil Servant Exam