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Seoul fires civil servant for poor performance for first time

May 13, 2024 - 13:56 By Song Seung-hyun

Seoul City Hall (123rf)

The concept of the "iron rice bowl" -- a Korean term signifying lifetime job security for civil servants -- appears to be cracking, as the Seoul government fired an employee on the basis of poor performance for the first time.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s official gazette, released Monday, the employment contract of the official, among the four who received the lowest grade in performance, has been terminated after the person received the lowest possible rating in last year's performance evaluation.

The government said the decision to dismiss the employee was made by the human resources management committee, which convened earlier this month.

The employment of a civil servant, whether in the central or local government, is protected by relevant laws. Dismissal is restricted under circumstances specified by law.

The committee, imposing the most severe disciplinary action, cited several factors, including the employee's unauthorized absence from work since mid-October 2023 and instances of inappropriate, aggressive behavior toward colleagues who declined to join a union.

The employee also did not attend training sessions organized by the city government for underperformers last year. Among the four who received the lowest performance grades last year, the dismissed official was the only one who did not attend the mandatory sessions.

The other three were reassigned to different departments, after completing the training, which consisted of a two-week initial session and a subsequent three-month program.

The government added it has made multiple attempts to contact the terminated employee by phone, text, and email but has not received a response.