South Korea

   

Executive Capacity

#18
Key Findings
With its strong executive stymied by an opposition-dominated parliament, South Korea falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 18) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 point relative to its 2014 level.

The powerful presidential office dominates line ministries. The president’s office has significant strategic-planning capacities. Ministerial compliance is strong, enforced by presidential pressure. Though efforts are being made to improve interministerial coordination, cases of coordination failure remain common. Informal coordination plays an important role.

RIA procedures are mandatory, with quality having improved in recent years. Ex post evaluation is common, but its effects on policy revision are limited. The Moon administration consults far more deeply with societal actors than did its predecessor, with a more open communication style. Ministries occasionally issue mutually contradictory statements, but rarely contradict the presidential office.

Implementation effectiveness has fallen short of initial ambitious goals, in part due to Moon’s lack of a parliamentary majority. The president is strongly committed to decentralization, in part by providing local governments with more funding. Regulatory enforcement is often biased toward big business.

Strategic Capacity

#16

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 of “a Nation of the People, a Just Republic of Korea,” along with 100 concrete policy goals. However, the Moon government has publicized several of the plan’s policies through the Blue House without coordinating the plans with related ministries. Overall, key policies recommended by the committee have not been successful, and its public presence has declined.

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

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert 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 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. 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. However, the selection of academic experts 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 leanings rather than their academic expertise. The Moon government has ignored criticisms of policy failures offered by experts with different political perspectives than its own, which makes the process of policy consultation less effective. President Moon himself seems to have neither the willingness nor the inclination to meet and have open talks with experts.

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

Interministerial Coordination

#6

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

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 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, however, constitutional reform has been stalled due to objections by opposition parties.

Citations:
Government Performance Evaluation Committee, http://www.psec.go.kr
The Korea Institute of Public Administration (KIPA), http://www.kipa.re.kr
Kong, Kanga. “Moon Seeks to End South Korea’s ‘Imperial’ Presidential System.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, Mar. 2018, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-22/moon-seeks-to-end-south-korea-s-imperial-presidential-system.

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 between 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’s hands. 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 of the role of the Blue House. The Blue House gets involved with and coordinates certain policies by exerting its political dominance rather than through administrative capability. This is particularly true for policy areas falling outside the president’s main priorities, for which the Blue House does not possess sufficient knowledge or human-resources capacity to act effectively.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast 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 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. However, in spite of the Blue House’s political dominance, the Moon government has exhibited numerous cases of coordination failure among relevant ministries. For example, the Blue House; the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance have frequently failed to communicate and coordinate effectively on real-estate policy, a fact that has helped produce skyrocketing prices and increasing inequality.

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 to further specific policies. However, these practices can also lead to corruption and an inefficient allocation of resources. The Moon government has been criticized for working within relatively small networks of key staffers; moreover, in a number of cases of failed implementation, it has emerged that informal networks and coordination have overridden formal policy.

Citations:
Seungjoo Lee and Sang-young Rhyu, “The Political Dynamics of Informal Networks in South Korea: The Case of Parachute Appointment” (2008), the Pacific Review, 21(1): 45-66.

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
9
The South Korean government utilizes e-government software (the Policy Task Management System) to monitor the implementation of policies in real time. In the UN E-Government Survey 2018, Korea was ranked at third place internationally for the implementation of e-government.

Citations:
UN E-Government Survey 2018, https://publicadministration.un.org/egovkb/en-us/Reports/UN-E-Government-Survey-2018

Evidence-based Instruments

#12

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. In its 2018 Regulatory Policy Outlook, the OECD praised Korea for improvements in its RIA processes since the previous report in 2015, and placed the country at or even above the OECD average in most categories. However, the report also highlighted some weaknesses, particularly with regard to RIAs concerning regulations initiated by the legislature, a category that is currently excluded. The Federation of Korean Industries, which advocates deregulation on behalf of corporate sectors, has proposed that the government apply RIAs to regulatory acts initiated by lawmakers.

Citations:
OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018, https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/governance/oecd-regulatory-policy-outlook-2018_9789264303072-en#page208
OECD, Government at a Glance Database, http://www.oecd.org/gov/government-at-a-glance-2017-database.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

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
The Regulatory Reform Committee (RRC) is the primary institution overseeing the RIA process. Stakeholders are consulted during the RIA process, which includes regular meetings with foreign chambers of commerce, for example. 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. The e-Legislation Center gives the general public the opportunity to propose a bill, submit opinions on regulatory bills or request clarification of how laws have been interpreted. However, RIA committees are often criticized for not being fully autonomous and for being influenced by political and economic interests. Divergent interests and voices from business circles and radical labor organizations are big obstacles in implementing RIA. Other criticisms offered by the OECD include a lack of sufficient time to carry out assessments, insufficient staff, and a lack of expertise and financial resources. The OECD also recommended that the scope of civil society participation in the RRC be widened, and that the committee’s steering capacity be strengthened rather than allowing it to micromanage RIA processes.

Citations:
OECD, 2017. OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform Regulatory Policy in Korea: Toward Better Regulation. May 23, 2017.
OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018, https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/governance/oecd-regulatory-policy-outlook-2018_97 89264303072-en#page208
www.better.go.kr/zz.main.PortalMain.laf
www.lawmaking.go.kr

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, which reports to the Ministry of Environment. This body’s task is to implement, promote, share, educate, network, monitor and make policy proposals on sustainable development. 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. The Moon administration has promised to focus more strongly on sustainability-related issues, including reductions in youth unemployment rates, air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions. For example, the Moon administration has promised to build no new nuclear power plants and has temporarily closed 10 coal-fired power plants (although only during months with low electricity demand). At the same time, the government appears to be considering a continuation of previous governments’ problematic practice of prioritizing economic growth, for example by issuing waivers for regulations governing economic development or apartment construction within green-belt areas. While President Moon has promised to highlight environmental sustainability, the actual effects on the RIA process remain to be seen.

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

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
7
In a recent OECD assessment of ex post evaluation, Korea was ranked third behind Australia and United Kingdom. While there is an effective evaluation system in place, the effect on policy revision has been limited to date. In recent years, real-estate policy has been broadly unsuccessful, contributing to historically high and skyrocketing prices by repeatedly imposing low-quality short-term regulations without effective ex post evaluation. Soaring prices have produced adverse effects by increasing economic inequality.

Citations:
OECD, Government at a Glance Database,
https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/9789264303072-en/1/2/2/index.html?itemId=/content/publication/9789264303072-en&_csp_=46cd5ed37844c9dc6cf21c84716ab307&itemIGO=oecd&itemContentType=book

Societal Consultation

#10

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
7
There have been major improvements with regard to consultation with societal actors since President Moon took office. 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 is holding frequent discussions with civil society groups and top business leaders, and allows Q&A sessions during press briefings. The Blue House also introduced a petition system in which the government is required to address a certain topic when at least 200,000 citizens have signed the petition. The Moon government has also tested so-called deliberative democracy processes, in which all stakeholders participate in three- or four-night debates, as a means of drafting controversial policies in areas such as nuclear energy or university admissions. While the government is trying to improve contacts with civil society, not all such attempts have been successful. For example, the tripartite process with labor unions and business groups has suffered a setback, with one of the largest umbrella labor-union umbrella organizations (KCTU) refusing to participate.

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

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
6
President Moon has placed a high priority on communication with citizens. He engages in more frequent press briefings than did his predecessors, and holds public hearings where he is likely to have more opportunities to have direct conversations with citizens. Ministries do occasionally issue mutually contradictory statements, but rarely openly contradict statements issued by the presidential office, which in Korea’s presidential system dominates the government strategy. The Moon administration has not been successful in its goal of inducing bureaucrats to work harder and better, since high-ranking politically appointed officials in the Blue House have dominated the policy process in a comparatively less professional way.

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

#26

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 Effectiveness
5
The Moon administration has shown slight improvements over its predecessor with regard to the implementation of policies, although implementation still falls far short of the president’s ambitious goals. Moon has developed a very detailed list of 100 policy goals that he wants to implement during his tenure. Yet despite the strong personal mandate deriving from his decisive election victory and strong popularity, Moon’s Democratic Party lacked a majority in parliament through the end of the review period. Nevertheless, the president has far-reaching powers and Moon has implemented several important measures such as the increase in the minimum wage, the creation of more stable jobs in the public sector and the reduction of the maximum work week to 52 hours. However, Moon has also postponed or abandoned some of his original agenda items, such as the constitutional reform designed to decentralize power, election reform and chaebol (business conglomerate) reform. Compared to his first year in office, President Moon’s reform drive has substantially slowed, and his administration has even backtracked on some of its already achieved goals. For example, amid criticism from the business sector, Moon has promised to reduce the pace of minimum-wage increases, and has promised more “flexibility” in reducing maximum allowed weekly work hours. As policy objectives are associated with individual politicians rather than deriving from comprehensive party programs, the controversy over and subsequent resignation of Justice Minister Cho Kuk in 2019 served as a distraction that slowed many of the reforms envisioned by President Moon.

Citations:
“S. Korea ‘bureaucracy risk’ derails economic innovation,” Maeil Business Newspaper, March 26, 2014
Yonhap News. “S. Korea committed to pursuing goal of inclusive growth.” May 06, 2019 https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20190505000200320

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

10
 9

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


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


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

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
9
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. 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 recent resistance to reform from within the prosecutors’ ranks showed that implementation mechanisms have not worked successfully in this area.

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
8
In general, 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. However, while ministerial compliance is largely assured in the Korean system, the ministerial bureaucracy has a certain degree of independence deriving from its members’ status as tenured civil servants. Because ministers have a comparatively short tenure, it is difficult for them to guide and monitor compliance in the bureaucracy. Generally, the degree of independence within the bureaucracy varies substantially, and is stronger in areas that are comparatively less important to the president. “Liberal” administrations such as the current government tend to face greater challenges in controlling the traditionally conservative bureaucracy than do their conservative counterparts.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/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 Prime Minister’s Office annually monitors and evaluates the performance of 42 governmental agencies. The ministries effectively monitor the activities of all executive agencies, with each minister holding responsibility for the compliance of the agencies under his or her purview. Once again, the top-down structure of the government typically 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. By contrast, bureaucrats have often responded to strong political pressures with an apathetic attitude.

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 in 2017. However, local and state governments have relatively little ability to raise their own revenue and thus depend on central-government support. The fiscal self-reliance ratio in over 90% of the local governments (220 out of a total of 243) was under 50% in 2016. In addition, local administrations are understaffed, and central-government employees are often delegated to subnational authorities. President Moon has highlighted the importance of decentralizing state power in order to allow local municipalities and provinces to be run more autonomously. Under the 2018 budget proposal, KRW 3.5 trillion ($3.1 billion) in subsidies was to be provided to provincial governments. The question of who is responsible for funding the mandatory high-school education system continues to produce conflict, with the provincial and central governments each trying to shift responsibility for costs to the other. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Economy and Finance have also been at odds over the issue.

Citations:
OECD, Government at a Glance Database, http://www.oecd.org/gov/govataglance.htm
“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
6
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 accorded to 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 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.

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) areas like Seoul and the country’s southeast and those 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.

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
5
Government agencies enforce regulation, but are usually biased in favor of certain groups and vested interests. The big business conglomerates and foreign investors are naturally the most powerful vested interests, and most policies take the interests of the big business sector and foreign investors into account. For example, environmental and safety regulations imposed on large businesses such as carmakers or domestic and foreign humidifier makers have been very lenient. SMEs have similarly emerged as a powerful interest group. Here, SMEs have managed to obtain very generous exclusions, even from the very modest reduction of maximum allowed weekly work times from 68 to 52 hours. Collusion between management and labor unions has also led to circumvention or exploitation of government regulations. For example, by excluding regular (non-performance-based) bonuses from the calculation of the minimum wage, even workers with relatively high total wages were able to benefit from the minimum-wage increase.

Citations:
Rhyu Sang Young, Moon Jae-in and the Politics of Reform in South Korea, Global Asia 2018, https://www.globalasia.org/v13no3/cover/moon-jae-in-and-the-politics-of-reform-in-south-korea_sang-young-rhyu

Adaptability

#10

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 developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial 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. 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. Korea seems to be falling behind particularly with regard to the transition to greater environmental sustainability. On a positive note, Korea has notified the United Nations that it will ratify four key International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions on the freedom of association and the prohibition of forced labor, although this ratification was still pending as of the time of writing.

Citations:
KOICA. “The Republic of Korea Joins IATI.” December 29, 2015. http://www.koica.go.kr/english/board/focus_on/1321226_3563.html
“South Korea set to ratify four key ILO conventions,” Hankyoreh, Nov.21,2017

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with 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 United Nations, the World Trade Organization and the G-20, South Korea helps to shape global rules and foster global public goods, but it rarely plays a leading role in international cooperation. The Moon administration has further shifted the attention from multilateral institutions to bilateral negotiations, with a particular focus on North Korea. Nevertheless, Korea does play a role in international organizations; for example, it is currently contributing 627 individuals to UN peacekeeping missions. Korea does engage in development cooperation, and joined the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in 2009, although initial goals of spending 0.25% of GNI for the purposes of development cooperation have not yet been met. Korea is committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and has signed the Paris Agreement on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. However, Korea can hardly be seen as a leader in these fields, as national sustainability and emissions-reduction goals are underwhelming. For example, while the European Union has promised to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels, Korea has only pledged to reduce emissions to 37% below business-as-usual projections, which would represent an increase of 81% compared to 1990.

Citations:
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. http://climateactiontracker.org/countries/southkorea.html

Organizational Reform

#18

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
6
The president’s office monitors institutional governance arrangements. The president frequently reorganizes ministries and government agencies when inefficiencies are detected. At the same time, institutional reforms are often driven by individual high-ranking government officials rather than being part of a comprehensive plan. For example, the recent controversy over the creation of a new government agency tasked with investigating and prosecuting high-level government officials was primarily driven by former Justice Minister Cho Kuk. However, the initiative did not provide adequate assessment as to how this new institution would be more independent than the existing public prosecutor’s office from political meddling, or how it would improve investigations of high-level officials overall.

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 also proposed transforming the current five-year, single-term presidency into a four-year, double-term (contingent upon reelection) system, and has envisioned reforming national institutions including the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the judiciary and various public agencies. He has said he would request the support of the National Assembly in developing the reforms. In 2019, proposed reforms of the public prosecutor’s office triggered a major political struggle. As of the end of the review period, however, most far-reaching institutional reforms had stalled due to the president’s lack of a parliamentary majority. More importantly, the prosecutorial reform will require the president and his allies to show more determined leadership and strategic capacity.

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
Martial law probe falters as suspect can’t be found, Joong Ang Daily, Nov 8, 2018
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