It has been identified that Land, Infrastructure, and Transport minister-nominee Choi Jeong-ho inherited his apartment unit in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province last month to his daughter and son-in-law and has been living in the home on a monthly lease. Choi was a multi-homeowner who possessed three houses- the apartment unit in question, Jamsil Jugong apartment in Songpa-gu and an ownership of an apartment unit in Sejong city. As he inherited one of the apartments to his daughter, he now owns two houses. He leaves us with no choice but to think that he inherited his house to avoid being criticized for owning multiple houses as Land, Infrastructure, and Transport minister-nominee that manages overall real estate policies such as house prices.
The process of his owning three houses reminds us of the typical speculation in real estate. He purchased the rights for a member of the redevelopment union for the Jamsil apartment under the name of his spouse in 2004 while owning an apartment in Bundang. It appears that Choi received a loan of 100 million won in pursuit of redevelopment profits and purchased the ownership of a parcel. He needs to explain how his wife, who did not have any specific income, was able to fund herself to pay her share of the expenses for redevelopment and owning a high-priced house, not to mention whether there was any inheritance tax evasions.
Even though he already owned two houses in Seoul, Choi purchased the ownership of an apartment unit in the administrative capital city, using preferential treatment for public officials. As the city specially parceled out 50 percent of newly-built apartments to public officials, they had higher possibility of winning the lot ownership than ordinary parcel-out and were also exempt from acquisition tax. “An expert to solve various pending assignments based on his knowledge encompassing land and transport sector, nominee Choi served major positions at the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry,” President Moon Jae-in stated on the letter for requesting personnel hearing that he submitted to the National Assembly on Wednesday. Choi, however, seemingly used the expertise he developed at the ministry for some 30 years on his “apartment shopping” rather than the stability of the citizen’s residence.
The Moon Jae-in administration has been working so hard trying to contain house price by regulating multi-home owners as speculators while limiting loans. In this back drop, if the minister-nominee is alleged to have engaged in “tricky inheritance,” it would indeed be difficult to gain people’s trust. Former Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mi, who owned two houses, was also criticized for hurriedly selling her house in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province to her sister. I guess the phrase “House is not for buying but for living” only applies to ordinary citizens.