Korean Job-seekers Protest Inappropriate Interview Questions

Article from the Hankyung:

“And what does your father do…?” Still being Asked in Bank Recruitment


This summer Hana Bank has caused controversy by asking internship applicants to write down their family’s information, including educational records and employment positions. People are upset as it might lead to social-class discrimination. Internships are regarded as an important stepping stone to permanent employment within Hana Bank.

Hana Bank started recruiting last month; Interns will work for six weeks and get additional points when they apply for permanent jobs at the bank. Every year 25~45% of new employees consist of those that completed internships at the company.

Hana Bank has requested the educational records of family members, not only parents, but also siblings, grandparents, and other relatives.

Applicants fear their family backgrounds will decide whether they are hired or not, which has made some furious. One said “I’ve been preparing for a career in this industry, but I feel suffocated by the situation.” Another applicant criticized them saying, “There’s no progress from when the popular Korean movie, ‘Friend’ was filmed.” In the movie, a teacher scolded and ridiculed his student by asking “what does your father do?”.

On the other hand, Hana Bank has refuted the claims, saying, “It is not a mandatory part. We will delete that section as well as all family information we have already received. If there’s further misunderstanding, we will respond and correct it immediately.”

Comments from Daum:


Definitely applicants’ backgrounds determine if you will be hired! If you’re born poor, you’ll be poor till you die!


They should hire people based on their capabilities, not their family backgrounds. Every part of Korea is related to ‘blood ties, school relations, and regionalism’. What an uncivilized country!


If you’re Christian, you won’t get a job. Believe me.


My father is a politician, (he debates with the other old people in the community center). My mother is a financial consultant, (she manages our family’s income as well as cooks perfectly for us). Am I qualified enough?


That’s because they can attract potential deposit clients..


“Not a mandatory section”? They should’ve said that it was a mistake. We’re not idiots.


From what I’ve seen, the applicants with the best family are the most useless ones when they actually start working.


They are total gangsters. Did they ask for educational records to threaten applicants? tut tut, what are they thinking?


Tellers should be honest more than anyone else. To write down the information of family is totally necessary.


Banks are important and so are tellers; what if they have cheaters in their families?


If people are hired based on specs they have, not who they know in high places, recruitment will be fair. Hiring people with ‘no spec’ will result in new situations like ‘Gwanpia’(bureaucrat+Mafia) or ‘Haepia(Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries+Mafia)’, which shows an exclusive and rotten working society. Young people have been fighting against the widening gap between rich and poor. When they take their first steps toward the working world, I hope they won’t be discriminated against for something beyond their control.


When I said my father was a high ranking official in a bank, I got a job straight away! On the next day, people kept asking about my father; I ran away after lunch.


But if a new hire embezzles, that bank will be brutally criticized by the media. In this case, being too sensitive to criticsm may lead the bank to pay big later on.


More than 95% of companies ask about applicants’ family backgrounds. Furthermore, there’s a company asking about how big their houses are, or even how they pay for the houses..


Only a few tellers can be hired for their real ‘spec’. Most employees are sons and daughters from socially high-ranking families. Before the IMF crisis broke out, anyone who graduated from a high school could easily work at banks. Nowadays, on the other hand, too high spec applicants are applying for banks due to high salaries and the decent benefits. However, their destinies are already determined according to their backgrounds.


Ask an interviewer the same question; what does your father do?


Isn’t it supposed to be asked?


what a bunch of gangsters!


Kumho Asiana asked not only about your family’s educational backgrounds but also their assets.


In developed countries, applicants are not even asked to write down their genders.. the interviewer can’t even find out if the applicant has a girls’ or a guys’ name until he/she actually shows up. But in Korea, there’s a long way to go…

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  • Bray On Tour

    Photos should also be banned from resumés.

    • But that would be devastating for the excessive-picture-Photoshopping industry.

      • linette lee

        I never photo shop my photos. I don’t know how. On my bad skin day I just don’t take photos. LOL.

        • bang2tang

          a lot of amazing apps for your camera phone.

          • linette lee

            To me it’s very simple. To take a selfie I must have very nice skin that day and enough sleep because I get really bad dark circles under my eyes. Like really really bad. That is about it. I usually take like 5 to 10 selfies and few of them I keep and delete the rest. LOL. And I only text the nice ones to my man. No bad photos please. LOL.

        • Boris

          In Korea, you go to a place to take a passport sized photo. They will photoshop it for you before even giving it to you. The same with some places in China.

    • jgs

      Why not? They will find out how you look like during the interview anyway.

      • Bray On Tour

        But you’ll get an interview along with a lot of other suitable candidates. And no one will have been chosen for the interviews because of their looks. This is the law in my country, and it makes sense to me.

        • jgs

          If all interviewers are that shallow, it won’t matter if they require passport pictures on their resume or not.

          • 于丹尼

            You might be able to charm them tho, so at least you kind of get a shot.

    • elizabeth

      It doesn’t matter. I would rather be rejected before the interview process so I won’t waste my time trying to convince people who are biased in favor of good-lookers. A company that shortlists based on looks isn’t worth the time and attention.

      Discrimination based on family background should be prohibited if a government is serious about equal opportunity and being competitive globally.

  • bang2tang


    “My father is a politician, (he debates with the other old people
    in the community center). My mother is a financial consultant, (she
    manages our family’s income as well as cooks perfectly for us). Am I
    qualified enough?”

    • linette lee

      My father is Bill Gate. My mother is Oprah. The man I am sleeping with is Keanu Reeve. My husband is Jay Chou. My best friend is Anne hathaway. LOl.. Do I pass. Can I get this job now?

      • Mk333

        No, only after divorcing Jay Chou and marry the interviewer instead then you may pass.

        In asia, marital status is still seen as obstacles on resumes.

    • jap

      u just a gook

  • Dave Park

    People should not be judged on their background but what they are capable of.

    • jgs

      Right. And Ivy league schools open their doors wide open for the descendants of the rich and powerful.

  • There is a new K-Pop band…called “5 Girls with no education or father “…but they are sexy as hell!

  • That’s pretty awful. I know that if I were judged based on my family members, I wouldn’t get a decent job anywhere lol.

  • What does your father do?…and what is your favorite K-pop band?

    • 금정산

      “What is your online alias?”

      Would you dare tell people?

    • linette lee

      hahaha…What is your favorite Kpop band? WHAT??? You are not fan of Girl Generation??? This job is not for you. next..

  • Lamer

    those “inappropriate” questions are trick questions; they want to see how the interviewee handle those kind of questions.

    • 금정산

      Why not ask the interviewee what is their most embarrassing moment? Or ask what is the most regrettable thing they have ever done to a friend?

      • Jang

        Those aren’t job(part-time) or volunteer related questions. If I were a Korean man I’d ask the female if she’s wet, I mean what is she going to do about it? Whatever, nothing will likely happen to me. Back to the interview…I’d strip search her to make sure she didn’t have a smartphone recorder on her before she leaves the room after I have my fun with her due to her “YES” answer.

      • elizabeth

        These are good questions.

  • Minty Badger

    It isn’t just Hana Bank. I’ve been asked what church I go to and what religion I am. One job’s application was almost 70% personal questions. “What your motto? What’s your favorite saying? What are three of your favorite aphorisms? (seriously…all three), how many books do you read in a year, what 3 books would you recommend to a co-worker? What are the three most significant events in your life? It was a job as chef in a hotel. I passed. If their application is that weird, working for them is probably even more bizarre.

    • Chucky3176

      It may sound strange to Western sensibilities, but I actually understand why they ask these personal questions. They’re trying to find out about your personal character, which is held up as important as much as just ability. They also want to see how you answer these questions under duress, and see if you will be poised in answering them. What they want is a team player who will be shaped and moulded by the company – a YES man/woman who won’t ask questions, just do as you are told. If you refuse to answer these questions or be vague, then you’re obviously not a team player and unfit for this company because you refuse to play along.

      This is so evident in sports. where recently a national football player who’s part of the World Cup team, got public flack for challenging his coach online, and for holding up the left hand on his chest (instead of the right one), while the national anthem was playing. Another young player who’s highly regarded as an up and coming talent in Europe (plays in Germany), who’s also on the national squad, couldn’t buy any playing time on the field for a while because the Korean coaches hated him. The coaches hated him because the young player didn’t fit the bill of a typical Korean player who mustn’t use spurt of the moment imaginative creative plays that goes counter against the traditional Korean style of play. He was deemed a “selfish player” and told to get in line. Ever since then, he couldn’t score a goal if his life depended on it. What they essentially did was, take a highly talented goal scorer and ruined what he did best, which was scoring goals. It’s like they taking Ronaldo, Pele, or Messi, and attempting to shape and mould those great names, and trying to turn them into another Park Ji Sung. No offense against Park Ji Sung, he was a good player, unselfish, loyal, and hard worker – but he was never a great goal scoring player. But that’s what Koreans want in players – a team player who works hard, won’t complain and who will do as what they are told.

      • 금정산

        I agree with your point about companies searching for team players to become “yes” men/women. But I really don’t think these questions are about finding personal character.

        As I said in another comment, why doesn’t the interviewer ask: “What is your most embarrassing moment?” Or ask: “What is the most regrettable thing you have ever done to a friend?”

        Or: “Can you give an example where you have made a sacrifice for the benefit of a team?”

        • Chucky3176

          Those are the questions what white people may ask. Koreans on the other hand, put much more emphasis on personal relationships and ties to family, friends, schools, etc. To Koreans, those relationships can reveal the kind of person you are.

          • 금정산

            [To Koreans, those relationships can reveal the kind of person you are.]

            And that’s what’s wrong.

          • tomoe723

            Haha, because everyone is lying to everyone else? Or so much fake faces to uphold?

      • Boris

        May I ask who you are talking about? The highly rated player that was ruined?

        Park was a winger, but not a goal scoring one and not on the levle of the greats you mentioned. Which is no shame, many players aren’t up there with them. I do feel at United he was limited due to being used as a Defensive Winger unlike his first stint in Holland.

        • Chucky3176

          Son Heung Min. They took his goal scoring ability and tried to make him into a Park Ji Sung, a defensive winger. Since he has to worry about tracking back all the time to help out the pathetic defence, he can’t score a goal. The Korean coach’s motto for his team, is the “Korean style” – characterized by “hard work and running long and hard”. That’s his own words, and that motto hasn’t since day one. Donga Ilbo had another story the other day, why thousands of young Koreans who studied and learned the game in Brazil, couldn’t make it when they came back to Korea to apply their trade. In Brazil, they were allowed to use their creativity to create goal scoring chances. The forwards were told to conserve their energy, float around the opposing team’s goal, and treat it as their living room. Back in Korea, the players who learned this in Brazil, were screamed at that why they didn’t run hard all the time. Also, they are criticized by the coaches if they try to do something that’s not in the books. Because the Korean players are expected run hard all the time and cover all positions, they are too tired out to score goals by the time when the opportunities come around. Son was hated by the coaches because he was thought to be arrogant and greedy for the ball. He was benched despite being a key player on his German team, unable to play for a third rate national team with few goal scoring options. If you’ve watched Son and Ki Seung Yong, they have individualism and personality charisma that no Korean players have. Yet they are not liked because they are thought of as incorrigible. You will never see great players like Maradona who gave a finger to Argentina, arising out of Korea. They would be nailed back down to where they belong. The analogy to soccer is symptomatic of the entire society which won’t allow diversity to flourish.

          • Boris

            I had a feeling you would say Son Heung Min (who is seen as a forward or wing forward). Your description of him reminds me a little of Welbeck (as Centre Forward who was used as a defensive winger because of his pace and work rate. His goal tally dried up and he’s play in the final third hasn’t improved – some would say regressed).

            There is a saying that a good striker tends to be selfish – I guess this concept has yet to make it to Korea. How many Korean coaches have coached abroad? It seems that Korea only pick internally after the great Dutch man left after 2002. It may be time to appoint another foreigner and more foreigner coaches to get the team playing better.

            I will say that Japan and Korea are not seen as physically strong sides compared to the Europeans and the African teams. And defensively seem naive. It could be the case of having to have everyone defend because your team isn’t good at it. Coaching and tactics can only take it so far (and sometimes works great -i.e. Greece in 2004). You also need to have the ablity. When I look at Japan or Korea, I see teams that have good midfielders or wingers but not that good strikers and less said about the defenders the better.

          • Chucky3176

            Being selfish on a Korean team will get you out of the team faster then I could say “Korea”. It’s a reason why Korea is constantly lacking goal scoring ability. Also remember, Son, his talents were mostly nurtured in Germany, not Korea. If Son was developed in Korea, he would probably would not be here, and we probably would not even know about him since he’d just be another number. The youth system needs to revamp, and inspirations should be learned from places where they are actually good in that sports. But the stubborn old farts in the Korean Football Association still look to “Korean style” of football. It’s flipping mind boggling, they are so backwards, and unable to look at the entire forrest, instead of just the tree. The Korean style of football is to run, run hard all the time, put pressure on the opposition for full 90 minutes. Unlike Japan (unlike what you pointed out), Korea overly relies on stamina. This game against Russia is no exception. The press are busy pointing out that the weather will be hot and humid, which should be in Korea’s favor, because Korean team is supposedly better conditioned for this weather, they say. If they think the weather’s going to decide this game, then they got something else coming their way. By the way, after Hiddink, they had three Dutchmen, and one Portugese coaches. None of them worked out because they didn’t get the full backing from the Korean Football Association (they’re the ones who really needs to go in my opinion). Their reasoning for sticking with inexperienced Korean coaches, while the fans are clamouring for foreign coach, is that they don’t have the money to hire multi-million dollar star coaches. On one hand, I think they’re bull shitting, but on the other hand, I see all the empty stadiums around K-League games, and I could actually understand that.

          • Boris

            I went to a match a few years ago when I was living in Ulsan. I think the previous year or the year before that Ulsan Tigers did well in the league but couldn’t hold onto their better players. The stadium wasn’t full but there were a lot of people. Organisation was pretty bad. We were waiting in line for over half an hour while only two ticket booths were open. The match already begun and then 15mins later (still waiting) a steward comes along and lets everyone waiting into the stadium. I and my friends watched the match for free. While the match was going on, the most vocal support came from the small group of away fans. You could tell they were the hardcore fans because they were drowning out 4 or 5 times their number. Other people couldn’t sit and went on a walk about during the match.

            Personally, if what you say is true, it may need the KFA to look abroad and see how teams have managed to grow not only support but talent too. USA and Japan can be models they can borrow from. But they should also look at smaller or new nations such as those in Eastern Europe or Switzerland. Take what will work for Korea and implement it. It does seem to me that K League are facing something similar to what the J league faced in the late 90s and have yet to see how the J-league teams and the JFA managed to overcome such issues.

            On football, though it is a team sport, it allows for individual creativity and artistary. You are in a team, you work as a team, but you are also allowed to express yourself. In my opinion, as long as creative players are held back, nations such as Korea will not move forward.

          • Chucky3176

            Boris, most of the funds for the K-League teams come from Chaebol companies that sponsor their teams that they own, and not from cheap ticket sales nor TV rights (like in the west).

          • Boris

            I know they are. Most of the teams having their sponsers/owners name in them i.e. Ulsan Hyundai Tigers (Horangi).

            What they need to do is build support from the ground up. Get the team players to do some community projects, even if it is just lending their names. Get the clubs involved in local communities (this doesn’t just have to be the players but simply providing stuff like balls to schools or having coaches visit schools within the city and take part in a PE or sports lesson, etc.). Get local businesses, small or medium sized involved too. They can add another sponser onto the shirts like they do in some SA countries. They can also sort out the ticketing scheme, have the stadiums actually offering decent facilities and shops and get a club shop (can start off small) involved. There are some hardcore fans, use them. Meet with supporters clubs and if there isn’t any get one set up. If they need support or permission from the KFA, I’m sure they could get it if the clubs band together.

      • elizabeth

        Then they are not looking for team players but conformists. Team players contribute by complementing their teams with their unique abilities, not by conforming.

  • Boris

    Somehow, this story doesn’t surprise me at all.

  • linette lee

    hahaah…so funny..what does your father do? Who are you friend with? Who is your Mother? Who are you dating? Who do you sleep with? Who is your husband? LOL. So funny. Are they for real?? Asking these questions during job interview? So funny.

  • Julius Evola

    What can you expect from a Nation that reveres a hereditary gang of gangsters (Yangbans) in its nonsense “historical” dramas?

  • bigmamat

    They could be collecting your DNA and your piss.

    • jgs

      Why not jizz?

      • bigmamat

        Well cause it requires everyone to have a set of balls for one thing. That would be discrimination.

        • jgs

          Then poop it is

  • David

    My favorite comment

    “When I said my father was a high ranking official in a bank, I got
    a job straight away! On the next day, people kept asking about my
    father; I ran away after lunch.”

    He tasted the freedom of lying for less than a day, then ran away. lmao.

    • elizabeth

      Because he had a conscience.

      • David

        Do you honestly think this? I don’t know how many Koreans you have worked with, but I have been working with them since 1985. Perhaps I am misunderstanding you but it sounds like you are saying he felt guilty about deceiving his co-workers. I would guess he left because he was worried he would be caught out and humiliated Don’t get me wrong, Koreans in general are among the most honest group of people I know (yes, except for the criminals) but, especially the young ones, they can have quite a streak of vanity and they are terrible at personal confrontation (one of the reasons the suicide rate is the highest among OECD countries and among the highest in the whole world, even ahead of that crazy suicidal country Japan).

  • UserID01

    If the company claims the information isn’t relevant and will be deleted anyway, what’s the point of asking? It’s very obvious that they’re discriminating by asking these kinds of questions.

  • Warren Lauzon

    This just shows how deeply imbedded the class system still is in Korea. It is no wonder that so many Koreans want to emigrate to the US.

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