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11/11/2019 Special > Special


The National Public Official Examination, Hanyang, and Korea

Insights into National Public Official Open Competitive Examination and Hanyang’s gosiban


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In October, Hanyang University congratulated 14 students for passing the Rank 5 National Public Official Open Competitive Examination for service in technical post. Placards all around the campus proudly state that out of a total 66 final successful candidates, Hanyang produced the second most number of candidates, right after Seoul National University. So what exactly is this Rank 5 National Public Official Open Competitive Examination, and why is it such applaudable news at Hanyang, not to mention in Korea?

In June of 2019, a survey of Korean middle-school students showed that the number one dream profession of children was not that of an actor, teacher, or athlete, as it used to be in the past, but a public official. This is said to be due to the harsh pressure that the young generation is undergoing, under the circumstance that getting a decent job these days is not an easy task. It is the same with the university students, and this is reflected in the number of applicants for the public official examination, which has doubled over the past five years. Although an individual’s reason may differ, the prime reason for this is the job's stability and economic security in older age. For such realistic desires, the public official has become the ‘dream job’ in Korea.

Naturally, competition is fierce. To become an official, one needs to pass a series of notorious tests. Public officials in general service in Korea are ranked from 1 (highest) to 9 (lowest), and there are various examinations for different ranks and subfields, each with their own specialized tests. The most well-known examinations are Rank 5, Rank 7, and Rank 9 National Public Official Open Competitive Examinations (the aforementioned examination for service in technical post is a subfield of the Rank 5 examination). The competition rate for each has been high every year, and this year, the rate for Rank 5, 7, and 9 recorded 36.4:1 (13,478:370), 46.4:1 (35,238:760), and 40.9:1 (202,978:4,953), respectively. The intense competition and notorious test levels necessitate years of intense studying. Im Su-yeon (Department of Electronic Engineering, 4th year), one of the successful candidates this year, explained that it is common to take about three years of hard work to pass the test. This year, she studied nine hours a day and six days a week.
The intense competition and notorious test levels required of applicants average approximately three years of intense studying. Hanyang's examination preparation class (고시반, gosiban) is where students spend most of their time in the studyroom provided by the university.
(Photo courtesy of Public Official Examination Class for service in technical post)

Despite the difficulties, many students of Hanyang achieve their dream each year, and Hanyang has produced many successful public officials in many fields. Most notably, the results of the Rank 5 National Examination for service in technical post has been exceptional each year. Since 2011, there are on average 12 successful candidates each year, and in 2016 and 2017, Hanyang ranked first and second with 19 and 15 candidates, respectively.

Behind this is effort is a tremendous amount of support from the university in the form of a Public Official Examination Class (고시반, gosiban). A gosiban is a class for students who are applying for a national examination. Students who join the class usually stay in the school dormitory, sleeping, studying, and preparing together and receiving various support from the school. Hanyang University supports many classes for each Public Official Examination, including ones for the Rank 5 examination in administration and the National Diplomat Candidate Test. The class for service in technical post is one of them, which accepts and maintain about 80 students each year. Students receive much financial and educational support, such as provisions for a dormitory, tuition, food expenses, study rooms, and lectures.
Students of gosiban are studying in a seminar room.

Even at this very moment, Hanyang students of gosiban are studying at their desks for their future as a public official of Korea. The head professor of the class for service in technical post, Lee Ju (Department of Electrical Engineering) stated, “although it requires harsh preparation and endurance, it is a path definitely worth trying. Even if you do not pass the test, the years of studying will make you a competent engineer. Also, it is a great opening to a grand mission of running our country yourself.”

Lim Ji-woo
Edit by Kim Ju-eun
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