South Korea

   

Executive Capacity

#15
Key Findings
Showing considerable gains with the change in government, South Korea falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 15) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.1 point since 2014.

The powerful presidential office dominates line ministries. The president’s office has significant strategic-planning capacities, with a new planning committee that includes key departments. Ministerial compliance is strong, enforced by presidential pressure, and efforts are being made to improve interministerial coordination.

Sustainability strategies have been in place since 2007, but are historically ignored for pet presidential projects. Moon has promised to highlight environmental sustainability. The new administration consults far more deeply with societal actors than its predecessor, and has pursued a far more open communication style.

Despite lacking a parliamentary majority, Moon’s record in achieving goals was strong in the administration’s early days. The new president is strongly committed to decentralization, in part by providing local governments with more funding. He has also proposed constitutional change redistributing power to the local level.

Strategic Capacity

#12

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
7
Strategic planning remains an important factor in South Korean governance. The office of the president includes a senior secretary and two secretaries for the president for state affairs. President Moon launched the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee in May 2017. This commission is comprised of key departments specializing in policy and administration, the economy, diplomacy and security, and policy planning. A total of 30 members play an advisory role in assisting the new government in reviewing the structure, function and budget of each government organization. Commission members also help to identify key policies that the government will pursue, and help develop medium and long-term plans to carry out the policies. The plan submitted by the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee contains policy recommendations to be pursued over the next five years of the Moon administration. The plan includes a national vision, strategies and 100 concrete policy tasks. While the former Park Geun-hye administration set priorities toward achieving very general goals including “happiness for the people,” “economic democratization” and a “creative economy,” President Moon has formulated much more concrete tasks under the general guiding principle of “A Nation of the People, a Just Republic of Korea.”

Citations:
Korea.net. Policy Roadmap of the Moon Jae-in Administration. July 19, 2017.
Korea.net. President Moon Unveils Five-year Policy Agenda. July 19, 2017. http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/policies/view?articleId=148013
Korea.net. President Launches Advisory Committee on State Affairs. May 22, 2017. http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/policies/view?articleId=146390

How influential are non-governmental academic experts for government decisionmaking?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental academic experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Scholarly Advice
6
Non-governmental academic experts have considerable influence on government decision-making. Within the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee, 14 out of 30 members are scholars (professors). Indeed, three out of four members of both this group’s policy and administration subcommittee and the diplomacy and security subcommittee have an academic background. In addition to a presidential advisory committee, scholars are often nominated for top government positions. President Moon has appointed Chang Ha-sung, a professor of economics at Korea University, to be presidential senior advisor for policy affairs, and Cho Kuk, a professor at Seoul National University’s law school, as a senior presidential secretary for civil affairs. The Fair Trade Commission’s newly appointed chairperson,, Kim Sang-jo, was a professor of economics at Hansung University.

Academic experts participate in diverse statutory advisory bodies established under the offices of the president and prime minister. Advisory commissions are usually dedicated to specific issues deriving from the president’s policy preferences. For example, the appointments of Chang Ha-sung and Cho Kuk can be interpreted as reflecting the current administration’s determination to reform the country’s chaebol (conglomerates) and prosecution system by appointing academic experts in these areas. However, the selection of academic exerts is often seen as too narrow and exclusive. The process of appointing experts remains highly politicized, and in the past experts have often been chosen because of their political inclination rather than their academic expertise.

Citations:
Korea.net. President Moon appoints senior secretaries. May 11, 2017 http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/policies/view?articleId=145963

Interministerial Coordination

#9

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills substantively?

10
 9

The GO / PMO has comprehensive sectoral policy expertise and provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s strategic and budgetary priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO has sectoral policy expertise and evaluates important draft bills.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise, but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
8
South Korea’s presidential system has a dual executive structure, with the president serving both as head of state and head of government. The prime minister is clearly subordinate to the president and is not accountable to parliament. The presidential office, known as the Blue House, has the power and expertise to evaluate draft bills. As the real center of power in the South Korean government, the Blue House has divisions corresponding with the various line-ministry responsibilities. The Prime Minister’s Office has sufficient administrative capacity and nonpolitical technocrats to design and implement policies and strategies politically chosen by the Blue House. President Moon has promised to decentralize powers, and plans to hold a referendum to amend the constitution in this manner. As of the time of writing, a variety of potential reforms were being discussed, including increases to local autonomy and even a switch from a presidential to a parliamentary system.

Citations:
Government Performance Evaluation Committee, http://www.psec.go.kr
The Korea Institute of Public Administration (KIPA), http://www.kipa.re.kr

Can the government office / prime minister’s office return items envisaged for the cabinet meeting on the basis of policy considerations?

10
 9

The GO/PMO can return all/most items on policy grounds.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO can return some items on policy grounds.
 5
 4
 3


The GO/PMO can return items on technical, formal grounds only.
 2
 1

The GO/PMO has no authority to return items.
GO Gatekeeping
9
There is extensive coordination between ministries, the prime minister’s office and the Blue House in the course of planning cabinet meetings. The president presides over regular cabinet meetings and can legally and de facto return any items envisaged for meetings as he or she wishes. In practice, this competence is limited only by the expertise of the Blue House and the relatively small size of the Blue House bureaucracy. Thus, the de facto ability to return issues depends on their political importance to the president.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination in the GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
9
Executive power is concentrated in the president. Thus, line ministries have to involve the Blue House in all major policy proposals. The president has the authority to, and often does rearrange, merge and abolish ministries according to his or her agenda. For example, President Moon created a Ministry of SMEs and Startups; renamed the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning as the Ministry of Science and ICT, and merged the National Security Agency and the Ministry of Public Administration and Security into a single Ministry of the Interior and Safety. He also (re-)established the National Fire Agency and the Korea Coast Guard abolished by his predecessor. However, while Moon has promised to decentralize power, there have as yet been few signs of any weakening in the role of the Blue House. The Blue House sometimes lacks sufficient knowledge and human-resources capacity to act effectively in certain policy areas. The Blue House gets involved with and coordinates certain policies through the exertion of political dominance rather than through administrative capability.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The large majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
7
Formally, the cabinet is the executive branch’s highest body for policy deliberation and resolution. In reality, the role of the cabinet is limited because all important issues are discussed bilaterally between the Blue House and the relevant ministry. However, bureaucratic skirmishing takes place on many issues. The Blue House’s capacity to contain rivalries between the various ministries tends to be relatively high early in a given president’s official term. However, coordination power becomes weaker in a lame-duck administration. Committees are either permanent, such as the National Security Council, or created in response to a particular issue. As many government agencies have recently been moved out of Seoul into Sejong city, the need to hold cabinet meetings without having to convene in one place at the same time has been growing, and the law has therefore been amended to allow cabinet meetings in a visual teleconference format.

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
7
Civil servants from different ministries regularly coordinate on policies of common concern. This coordination and cooperation among related civil servants across ministries can be either formal or informal, hierarchical or horizontal. Unfortunately, attitudes in the ministries are shaped by a departmentalism that obstructs coordination. Different ministries use their policies to compete for support and approval from the office of the president. There is also a clear hierarchy delineating the ministries. Civil servants in important ministries, such as the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, consider civil servants from other ministries, such as the Labor Ministry or the Environment Ministry, as being “second tier.” Key issues given a high priority by the president can be effectively coordinated among concerned ministries.

Some attempts to improve coordination among ministries are being made. Various interministerial coordination mechanisms have been implemented on the basis of sector and theme, such as the interministerial coordination system for ODA. Moreover, it is expected that the efficiency of and communication between government agencies will be improved by the introduction of a new records-retrieval system. The National Archives and Records Administration (NIS) has announced that it will establish a search and retrieval service in consultation with the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.

Citations:
“Korea’s Government 3.0: the Beginning of Open Government Data,” Korea IT Times, February 24, 2016
http://www.koreaittimes.com/story/58369/koreas-government-30-beginning-open-government-data

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
8
Most interministerial coordination is both formal and informal in Korea. Informal coordination is typically, if not always, more effective. There is also a clear hierarchy structuring the ministries. Staffers at the newly created Ministry of Strategy and Finance see themselves as the elite among civil servants. However, the leading role of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance is defined by the president’s mandate.
In addition, informal coordination processes tend to be plagued by nepotism and regional or peer-group loyalties, particularly among high-school and university alumni. There has been both cooperation and competition between the ministries. Informal networks between the president and powerful politicians work very effectively in forwarding specific policies. However, these practices can also lead to corruption and an inefficient allocation of resources. For example, the recent Choi Soon-sil scandal took advantage of the prevalence of informal coordination and meetings.

Evidence-based Instruments

#13

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
8
There were no changes in regulatory impact assessment (RIA) policy in the period under review. RIA has been mandatory for all new regulations since 2005 and is applied to older regulations if they are strengthened in any way. RIAs assess proposals’ socioeconomic impacts and provide cost-benefit analyses. However, there is still a broad gray zone enabling regulatory organizations to decide in a discretionary fashion. The real RIA implementation process is neither transparent nor predictable, and indeed varies depending on the case. RIA has typically been no more than formally applied in policy areas that are a political focus of the serving president. The Lee government’s Four Canal Project and energy diplomacy, as well as ODA allocation under the Park administration’s New Village Movement, are typical cases showing how RIA can be sidelined by the president’s political interests.

South Korea has undergone a third OECD regulatory reform review, with previous evaluations taken in 2000 and 2007. The 2015 report indicated that Korea was performing slightly above the OECD average with regard to regulatory impact assessment. However, the report also said there was still room for improvement, including in the area of the “quality of these practices and by extending these practices to the entire regulatory system.” The review also stressed the need for Korea to establish a clear strategy for regulatory policy in order to make better use of its deployed resources.

Citations:
OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2015, Country profile Korea, www.oecd.org/publications/oecd-regulatory-policy-outlook-2015-9789264238770-en.htm
Korea Herald. Analytic tools crucial in improving regulatory practices: US adviser. October 13, 2017. http://khnews.kheraldm.com/view.php?ud=20171013000737&md=20171016003056_BL
Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Korea to the OECD. Korea’s Regulatory Policy Evaluated in New OECD Book. May 31, 2017.
http://oecd.mofa.go.kr/english/eu/oecd/korea/new/index.jsp?sp=/webmodule/htsboard/template/read/new_legengreadboard.jsp%3FtypeID=16%26boarded=12385%26seqno=753074%26tableName=TYPE_ENGLEGATIO

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
6
RIA committees are often criticized for not being fully autonomous and for being influenced by political and economic interests. Other criticisms mentioned by the OECD are a lack of time to carry out assessments, insufficient staff, and a lack of expertise and financial resources. Many civil servants in South Korea perceive RIA to be merely a formality. Stakeholders are consulted during the RIA process, which includes regular meetings with foreign chambers of commerce.

The general public and specific stakeholders can be integrated into the process via online channels such as the Regulatory Information Portal, Regulatory Reform Sinmungo, and the e-Legislation Center (www.lawmaking.go.kr). For example, the e-Legislation Center gives the general public the opportunity to propose a bill, submit opinions on regulatory bills or request a clarification of how laws have been interpreted.

The Board of Audit and Inspection, as well as related NGOs, have assessed and inspected the process of RIA at times when it has become controversial with regard to specific policy issues. The RIA performed on the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile defense system is a clear case of a failure to allow participation, transparency or high-quality evaluation, largely due to the security imperative and American pressure.

Citations:
OECD, 2007, OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform: Korea 2007 Progress in Implementing Regulatory Reform
OECD, 2017. OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform Regulatory Policy in Korea: Toward Better Regulation. May 23, 2017. http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/governance/regulatory-policy-in-korea_9789264274600-en#page1

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
6
The assessment of policy-implementation sustainability in South Korea is regulated by the 2007 Sustainable Development Act and overseen by the Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development. This body’s task is to implement, promote, share, educate, network, monitor and make policy proposals on sustainable development. The three main tasks under the act include the establishment of fundamental national-level sustainability strategies every 20 years, the establishment of specific action plans every five years, and the assessment of implementation every two years. The act addresses environmental quality, vulnerability to environmental degradation, environmental degradation level, the social and institutional capacities to respond, and responsibility sharing with the international community. Critics argued that under the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations, a focus on economic growth and deregulation diminished the attention paid to issues of sustainability. For example, past governments repeatedly issued waivers on regulations governing economic development within green-belt areas in order to boost the real-estate market, undermining principles of environmental sustainability. President Moon has by contrast promised to highlight environmental sustainability, but the actual effects on RIA remain to be seen. His campaign commitment to withdraw from nuclear-powered electricity generation represents one attempt to promote environmental sustainability in South Korea. The Moon government’s welfare policies have also prompted heated debates over social sustainability and fiscal sustainability.

Citations:
Ministry of Government Legislation, http://www.moleg.go.kr/english/korL awEng?pstSeq=57720
Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development (PCSD), http://ncsd.go.kr:2020/index.asp

Societal Consultation

#18

To what extent does the government consult with societal actors to support its policy?

10
 9

The government successfully motivates societal actors to support its policy.
 8
 7
 6


The government facilitates the acceptance of its policy among societal actors.
 5
 4
 3


The government consults with societal actors.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Negotiating Public Support
6
There have been major improvements with regard to consultation with societal actors since President Moon took office. The new administration announced its national vision under the motto “A Nation of the People,” and has reaffirmed the fact that the people are the rightful owners of the nation, while promising to run state affairs in accordance with the constitutional spirit of popular sovereignty. And indeed, compared to the Park administration, the current government has already shown more willingness to consult and communicate with various social actors. During the review period, President Moon met with representatives of Korea’s top labor organizations, including the leaders of the country’s top two umbrella labor unions – the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) – to discuss the new administration’s economic and labor policies. This meeting signaled the government’s willingness to communicate closely with labor organizations.

In the case of nuclear-power policies, some argue that President Moon has gone too far in outsourcing decisions to a commission composed of members of the general public. In his election campaign, he promised to discontinue the construction of two new nuclear-power plants and phase out nuclear power in general. However, after the election, he promised to follow public opinion on this matter, and formed a state commission of 471 civilians that after deliberation made the decision to finish the construction of the two power plants, while abandoning any additional planning for new nuclear-power plants.

President Moon’s interactions with the public are also significantly different than those of his predecessor. He has emphasized the importance of being more open and communicative with the public. He has promised to continue having frequent discussions with the county’s top business leaders, and to hold more active Q&A sessions during press briefings.

Citations:
E-People, http://www.epeople.go.kr
OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2015, Country profile Korea, www.oecd.org/publications/oecd-regulatory-policy-outlook-2015-9789264238770-en.htm
Korea Herald. Second-largest labor union to stage strike, rally. June 29, 2017. http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170629000963
Yonhap News. Moon promises frequent and frank communication with biz leaders. July 27, 2017. http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2017/07/27/0301000000AEN20170727001852315.html
Korea Times, Construction of Shin-Kori 5 and 6 reactors resumes, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/biz/2017/10/367_238189.html

Policy Communication

#19

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

The government effectively coordinates the communication of ministries; ministries closely align their communication with government strategy. Messages are factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 8
 7
 6


The government coordinates the communication of ministries. Contradictory statements are rare, but do occur. Messages are factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries are responsible for informing the public within their own particular areas of competence; their statements occasionally contradict each other. Messages are sometimes not factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually coherent with the government’s plans.
Coherent Communication
6
President Moon Jae-in has emphasized the importance of cooperation among the relevant ministries for promoting sustainability. Significant agenda items requiring interministerial collaboration include the proposed energy policy, water-management policies and the smart-city creation project. In addition to communication with ministries, President Moon has placed a high priority on communication with citizens. He engages in more frequent press briefings than his predecessor, and holds public hearings where he is likely to have more opportunities to have direct conversations with citizens. Moreover, as a symbol of efforts to reach out to citizens and promote communications with the general public, the government has begun allowing citizens and foreign tourists to drive or walk near the Cheong Wa Dae presidential office at all hours. The road to Cheong Wa Dae had previously been closed from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. for decades. In a public survey conducted in November 2017, Moon’s approval rating was tallied at 70%, due in part to his efforts to enhance communication with citizens.

Citations:
KBS News. “Activate the ministerial meetings for better collaboration.” July 28, 2017. (In Korean) http://news.kbs.co.kr/news/view.do?ncd=3523871

Implementation

#16

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Efficiency
5
The Park Geun-hye government was widely criticized for ineffective policy implementation despite having a majority in parliament until the 2016 parliamentary election. President Moon has promised to implement his agenda successfully by developing 100 policy goals. Yet despite his strong personal mandate deriving from his decisive election victory and strong popularity, Moon’s Democratic Party lacks a majority in parliament. Nevertheless, the president has far-reaching powers, and Moon has already implemented several important measures such as the increase in the minimum wage and the creation of more stable jobs in the public sector. As of the time of writing, the new president had been rather successful in implementing policies, enjoying a prolonged honeymoon period thanks in part to the massive discrediting of the conservative opposition due to the Park scandal. However, Moon has also abandoned some of his original agenda items, such as the termination of construction on two nuclear-power plants. After initially being suspended, construction was restarted after criticism from business groups and a vote by a panel commissioned to represent the public opinion. Overall, it is far too early to evaluate the new administration’s performance when it comes to the implementation of policies.

Citations:
“S. Korea ‘bureaucracy risk’ derails economic innovation,” Maeil Business Newspaper, March 26, 2014
“Park’s approval rating hits record low of 5% “, Korea Times, November 4, 2016, https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2016/11/116_217549.html

To what extent does the organization of government provide incentives to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
10
Ministers in South Korea do not have their own political base, and thus depend almost solely on the support of the president. The president has the authority to appoint and dismiss ministers, and frequently reshuffles the cabinet. The average tenure of a minister has continuously declined over the past two decades. Under the Lee Myung-bak administration, the average period of service was about one year. This high degree of turnover limits ministers’ independence, as they are unable to develop their own voice to pursue their own or institutional policy ideas.

The role of National Assembly confirmation hearings for ministerial candidates should not be underestimated. As of the time of writing, seven of Moon Jae-in’s ministerial candidates had failed to move past these hearings, in part due to strong media scrutiny.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
9
The offices of the president and the prime minister effectively monitor line-ministry activities. The South Korean government utilizes e-government software (the Policy Task Management System) to monitor the implementation of policies in real time. However, political monitoring or pressure is more influential than e-government, and is the usual tool used to supervise ministries. Ministries have little leeway in policy areas that are important to the president. In general, bureaucracy is organized in a very hierarchical way, but independence is stronger in areas that are comparatively less important to the president. The Prime Minister’s Office also annually monitors and evaluates the performance and implementation of 42 governmental agencies.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies and executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies, Bureaucracies
6
The ministries effectively monitor the activities of all executive agencies, with the minister holding responsibility for the agencies’ compliance. Once again, the top-down structure of the government allows for effective monitoring. Agencies generally have autonomy with respect to day-to-day operations, but even these can occasionally be the subject of top-down interventions. Each ministry sets its own performance and implementation indicators and reports its annual progress. The indicators can be used as a monitoring tool for the activities of bureaucracies and executive agencies with regard to implementation. However, ministries fail in some cases to monitor executive agencies’ implementation activities effectively.

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
5
While South Korea remains a unitary political system, a rather elaborate structure of provincial, district and neighborhood governments has been in place since 1995. Local governments play an important role in providing services to citizens and respectively account for about 35% of government spending (according to the latest available data in 2015). However, local and state governments have relatively little ability to raise their own revenue. As their own sources account for only 17% and 22% of national revenues respectively, most subnational governments need substantial support from central government, particularly outside the Seoul region. In addition, local administrations are often understaffed, and central-government employees are often delegated to subnational authorities. President Moon has highlighted the importance of decentralizing state power in order to help local municipalities and provinces to be run more autonomously. Under the 2018 budget proposal, KRW 3.5 trillion ($3.1 billion) will be delivered to local governments in the form of local subsidies to provincial governments.

Citations:
OECD, Government at a Glance 2009
OECD, Government at a Glance 2011
OECD, Government at a Glance 2017 Database
“High welfare-related costs stymie local governments,” Korea JoongAng Daily, Oct 14, 2014
Korea Herald. Moon vows efforts for greater local autonomy. June 14, 2017. http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170614000743

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
5
While autonomous local governments are protected by the constitution, the constitution does not clearly define specific competencies and rights. A major obstacle to subnational self-government is the lack of fiscal autonomy for local governments. Due to the very high dependence on transfer grants from the central government, most regional and local governments are vulnerable to central-government interference. The fiscal self-reliance ratio in over 90% of local governments (220 out of a total 243 local governments) was under 50% in 2016. The reality of inadequate budgetary and functional authority in many local areas, as well as the disproportionate influence of city and provincial authorities, often leaves local administrators and governments short on revenue and effective governing capacity.

However, local-government autonomy is expected to be expanded under the new administration. President Moon has promised to reduce centralization within the country’s overall system of governance. For example, he has suggested holding periodic meetings with local government leaders, thus creating a kind of “secondary cabinet.” Moon also has shown great interest in holding a referendum on a constitutional amendment designed to redistribute power to the local level.

Citations:
Joong-Ho Kook (2014), Does Local Autonomy Enhance the Autonomy in Local Public Finance? Evidence from the Case of Korea, http://www.akes.or.kr/eng/papers(2014)/127.full.pdf
Korea Times. Moon and Local Authority. September 26, 2017. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/opinion/2017/10/625_237037.html

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
7
The Ministry of Public Administration and Security, created through a merger of earlier agencies, is in charge of ensuring that local governments maintain national minimum standards. However, many local governments, particularly in rural areas, have much lower professional standards than does the city government of Seoul or the central government. While the provision of basic services is similar in all regions, there is a huge difference in the provision of additional services such as recreation facilities between affluent (i.e., self-sufficient) regions like Seoul and the southeast and less prosperous (i.e., dependent on transfer payments) regions in the southwest. For instance, a number of local governments have recently begun paying child benefits greater than those dictated by national standards. As local-government autonomy develops, a greater number of customized policies are being introduced for residents. For example, the Special Act for the Promotion of Health and Welfare of Rural Communities was implemented in 2017.

Adaptability

#9

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures no matter how useful adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
8
International and supranational developments that affect South Korea directly can trigger rapid and far-reaching change. For example, South Korea has reacted to the global financial and economic crisis with decisive action and massive government intervention. Global standards play a crucial role in the South Korean government. Reports and criticism issued by international organizations such as the OECD or the IMF, or by partners such as the United States or the European Union, are taken very seriously. The government has also declared its intention to increase its provision of official development assistance (ODA) in order to meet global standards in the near future. More generally, South Korea has been strongly influenced by international and supranational developments and pressures. For example, it was the first Asian donor to join the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), an initiative for enhancing aid transparency.

However, the country’s degree of adaptability largely depends upon compatibility with domestic political goals. Indeed, action in many areas can be regarded as so-called mock compliance. For example, the government is relatively less responsive to global standards in areas such as environment, labor rights or the reduction of non-tariff barriers. Yet while some have worried that the Moon administration will be more inward-looking than predecessors, it is more likely that South Korea’s strong economic dependence on global markets will ensure it remains open to adapting to most global pressures.

Citations:
KOICA. “The Republic of Korea Joins IATI.” December 29, 2015. http://www.koica.go.kr/english/board/focus_on/1321226_3563.html

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively in international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
7
As a member of the UN, the WTO and the G-20, South Korea helps to shape global rules and foster global public goods. However, it rarely plays a leading role in this regard. As of the time of writing, South Korea had contributed 652 members to UN peacekeeping missions. Development cooperation is one area where Korea could be in a good position to develop a leadership position. South Korea joined the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in 2009. As a successful case of transformation from an ODA-recipient country to an ODA-donor country, Korea has played a proactive role although absolute levels of ODA remain relatively low at 0.14% of GNI. Moreover, interministerial coordination in the area of development cooperation is slowly improving. Korea’s commitment to sustainable development constitutes an important baseline for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Environment have played an important role in preparing for the implementation of the SDGs at both the domestic and international levels. The adoption of the Third Basic Plan for Sustainable Development 2016 – 2035 in January 2016 was a crucial component of Korea’s efforts to translate the SDGs into national frameworks. The Third Plan is updated every five years and progress toward the policy targets of the Third Plan is biennially evaluated by the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Fourteen strategic targets have been set, including improved environmental policies, the promotion of social unity and gender equality, the promotion of inclusive growth, the creation of decent jobs, and the improvement of partnerships in implementing the SDGs.

The Moon administration has also indicated that it will engage in energy-policy reforms more ambitious than those of the previous government. Moon has pledged to increase the share of renewable electricity generation to 20% by 2030. Consequently, the administration is also expected to set more ambitious goals for the reduction of climate-gas emissions beyond the current goal of a 37% reduction relative to the business-as-usual (BAU) projection.

Citations:
Kalinowski, Thomas and Hyekyung Cho. 2012. Korea’s search for a global role between hard economic interests and soft power. European Journal of Development Research 24 (2):242-260. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/ejdr.2012.7.
The government of Korea. 2016 National Voluntary Review Year One of Implementing the SDGs in the Republic of Korea: From a Model of Development Success to a Vision for Sustainable Development. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/10632National%20Voluntary%20Review%20Report%20(rev_final).pdf
Climate Action Tracker. South Korea Profile. November 6, 2017. http://climateactiontracker.org/countries/southkorea.html

Organizational Reform

#14

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
7
The president’s office monitors institutional governance arrangements. The president frequently reorganizes ministries and government agencies when inefficiencies are detected. Unfortunately, it seems that meaningful improvements are achieved only after major problems become obvious, as for example following the lack of coordination between government agencies during the Sewol ferry-disaster rescue operation. The recent corruption and abuse-of-power scandals, which in part involved influence-peddling through informal Blue House networks, undermined trust in formal institutions and policymaking procedures and revealed a surprising lack of checks and balances. In particular, persons without formal government positions seem to have wielded undue access and influence over policymaking without any check-and-balance mechanisms in place. The Moon administration has announced that it will improve self-monitoring and transparency. However, weak voluntary compliance and organizational self-seeking among government-agency actors remain deeply rooted throughout the governance system.

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
6
The Moon administration is expected to carry out some institutional reforms during his term. Most importantly, the new president has pledged to decentralize the political system by transferring previously centralized powers to national ministries and agencies as well as to regional and local governments. Moon has expressed a willingness to reform national institutions including the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the judiciary and public agencies, and has said he would request the support of the National Assembly in developing the reforms. One key proposal from Moon’s campaign was to reform the prosecutorial system by removing all or part of its investigative powers, and instead establishing an independent body that can investigate and indict high-ranking government officials. The president has also reaffirmed his commitment to reforming the military, with the aim of boosting Korea’s offensive capabilities.

With regard to constitutional revision, Moon has proposed transforming the current five-year, single-term presidency into a four-year, double-term (contingent upon re-election) system, with a national vote on the change to be held in 2018. He has suggested that the legislature should pass a revision bill early that year in order to facilitate a national referendum on the revised constitution held in parallel with the June 2018 local elections. Such a constitutional change would most likely improve the president’s strategic capacity and reduce the lame-duck period, while the proposed decentralization of power would keep the president from interfering with the day-to-day activities of subordinate institutions.

Citations:
Korea Herald. What Moon Jae-in pledged to do as president. May 10, 2017. http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170509000521
Yonhap News. Moon reaffirms commitment to military reform, reinforcement. August 20, 2017. http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2017/08/20/0301000000AEN20170820001651315.html
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