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No cap on salary of employees at the Korea Aerospace Administration - a Korean version of NASA

No cap on salary of employees at the Korea Aerospace Administration - a Korean version of NASA

Posted February. 18, 2023 04:16,   

Updated February. 18, 2023 04:16


The government decided to allow the appointment of foreigners or people with dual citizenship and remove the annual salary cap in order to attract outstanding overseas talent to the space and aviation agency, which will be newly established this year. It will open the possibility that a non-Korean will be selected as the first head of the Korea Aerospace Administration or a star scientist with an annual salary of around 1 billion won will be appointed. The space agency is called the Korean version of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). The establishment of the Space Aviation Administration, which is President Yoon Suk Yeol's presidential campaign pledge, is part of the 'Space Economy Roadmap', a key national task to revitalize the aerospace industry.

According to the Office of the President on the 17th, the enactment of the “Special Act on the Installation and Operation of the Korea Aerospace Administration (KAA),” prepared by the Ministry of Science and ICT and reported to President Yoon, enabled the KAA to have professionalism and flexibly organize and operate the organization. KAA will have a commissioner, deputy director, and 1st director general. It has enabled the commissioner to quickly organize, change, and disband the project organization within the central headquarters. KAA will operate in such a way that R&D organizations will be formulated on a project basis when necessary. Even if they belong to a funded research institute, university, or company, if temporary dispatch work is possible, researchers will be hired on a term basis. There are also observations that it can become a model for government reform by President Yoon, who aims for an “agile and flexible government.”

Unconventional remuneration and a performance-based flexible labor hiring approach will also be introduced for expert attraction. It will be possible to independently hire private experts for positions of team leader or higher as temporary term-based civil servants. Remuneration for term-based public officials can be set without a cap, regardless of the existing remuneration system in place for public officials. An official from the Presidential Office said, “The Commissioner of KAA has been allowed to appoint term-based public officials from grades 1 to 9. Considering that currently, ministers can only appoint term-based public officials up to grade 3, this is an unprecedented measure.”

As for term-based public officials of the first grade or higher, the government decided to make an exception regarding the stock blind trust obligation, whereas keeping property registration and disclosure obligations. Flexibility has been enhanced in consideration of existing cases in which key talents refused to become public officials due to blind trust issues. A government official explained, “We plan to complete the legislative notice of the special law enactment next month at the latest, with the goal of launching the agency in December this year.”

Kwan-Seok Jang jks@donga.com