A jobless scientist with a doctorate in physics has applied for a street sweeper’s job, reflecting the financial crisis in South Korea, officials say.

The 36-year-old physicist was among 63 people who applied for five openings as sweepers, Seoul’s Gangseo District Office said. Eleven of the applicants were university graduates, it said.

“I doubt whether any doctorate degree will be of any help to become a sweeper,” Chung Young-Ik, an official in charge told AFP.

“He must have been in a very desperate situation to seek this job but we are selecting new sweepers, not scientists,” he said.

The district office said competition had become tougher this year for the sweeper jobs, with an average 12.6 people vying for each opening, up from eight people last year.

The 33 million won (RM88,495.47) average starting salary for a sweeper is greater than what inexperienced university graduates earn by working at large businesses, Chung said.

South Korea’s economy generated 78,000 new jobs in November, down from 97,000 created the previous month, as companies avoid hiring amid the ongoing economic slump, the National Statistics Office said.

Job growth has been one of the top priorities for the government of President Lee Myung-bak, who took office in February.

Lee has said he aims to create around 200,000 new jobs annually. AFP