The data released by Statistics Korea showed that 714,000, or 15.3 percent, of 4.68 million economically inactive youths aged 15-29 prepared for state exams in May, up 2.2 percentage points from the same period last year.
Among the 714,000, 30.7 percent were preparing for state exams to become low-ranking public officials, while 6.7 percent were getting ready for highly competitive national civil service exams for senior posts.
South Korea's officialdom is classified into nine grades, with grade 1 being the highest. Applicants who pass the national civil service exams can skip ahead and start their public careers at grade 5.
Many young people favor civil service posts due mainly to greater job security.
The data showed that 24.8 percent of people prepared for professional license exams for jobs like baker and hairdresser.
The statistics agency also said it took 10.8 months on average for young people to get their first job.
The agency said 34.1 percent of those hired earned between 1.5 million won ($1,200) and 2 million won per month in their first job, while 27.7 percent received between 1 million won and 1.5 million won. (Yonhap)