South Korean’s fever for public service jobs and exam ronins: from a NHRD management framework

Namhee Kim, Sunyoung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to describe South Korea’s unique fever for public service jobs (FPSJ) and to critique it from a National Human Resource Development (NHRD) management framework. Design/methodology/approach: This paper reviewed previous studies, news and technical reports related to FPSJ and NHRD to connect FPSJ and NHRD. Findings: This study analyzed FPSJ-related issues based on three areas (development, allocation and utilization) of human resources and four contexts (political, economic, social and educational backgrounds). FPSJ has led to multiple concerns about developing human resources (vocational education and career guidance), allocating human resources (the unbalanced supply-demand mismatch and flawed selection) and using human resources (delayed job entry and low public service ethos). Originality/value: This study analyzes the challenges related to FPSJ in Korea from a NHRD perspective. Based on the analysis, this study recommends strategies for reducing the over-emphasis on FPSJ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-795
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Training and Development
Issue number8-9
StatePublished - 21 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Korean parents’ high value on education represented by the term “education fever” is also likely to contribute to FPSJ. Most public servant applicants are financially supported by their families during the exam preparation period (). found that family support is a significant factor that pushes the applicants to keep trying to pass the exams year after year. Although the financial strain can be a significant burden for aging parents, they are willing to take the financial responsibility for their adult children because public jobs have been highly regarded in the parents’ generation (). Thus, concluded that Korean parents’ education fever seemed to be expanded to FPSJ. In other words, pushing their children to secure a public sector job may be a family pursuit, not a personal pursuit (). These unique family relationships and dynamics have had a considerable impact on FPSJ.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Civil service exam
  • Exam ronins
  • Fever for public service jobs
  • Korean labor market
  • National human resource development (NHRD)
  • South Korea


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