Young people are experiencing growing anger and frustration, as they have lost opportunities to buy housing due to skyrocketing housing prices. Some feel like they were abandoned and think that the ‘ladder’ they cannot claim is better to collapse. The Dong-A Ilbo listened to young people’s voices through its 2021 foundation special “opposite extremes – young people meet young people.” Regardless of their political orientation, real estate was the subject of frustration and distrust among young people. Without practical measures to address young people’s concerns over housing, not only a decline in marriage and birth rates but also social confusion and conflicts would be unavoidable.
Bin Soo-jin, one of the discussion attendees, applied 10 times for rental housing for young people. She failed nine times and is currently living in the house she was chosen for. Bin said finding a rental house was as difficult as getting a job. She also added that she was lucky but many friends of hers don’t have a place to live. The government came up with rental houses as a housing policy for young people, but their supply is not even close to enough.
Those who bought a house on a loan are also feeling anxious. It seems that they are doing better with rising housing prices, but many of them are concerned with interest payments, as the rates are believed to go up. One out of four young people has given up on looking for a job or are simply taking a break. Without a stable occupation, there is no opportunity for a loan. Some say that the government should stay put and not do anything, as every new policy announced by the government has only driven up housing prices.
Many young people even said that they are not even dreaming of buying a house. “I can’t imagine myself climbing up the high ladder with the skyrocketing housing prices,” said Lee Jin-myong. Indeed, housing prices are too high to climb up with a “ladder.” The median price of an apartment unit in Seoul was around 600 million won when the current administration was launched, but it is now around one billion won. According to the Korean Educational Development Institute, the average annual salary of the newly employed last year was 31.15 million won. In order to buy an apartment with a median price in Seoul, saving 32 years-worth of salary is required without making a single expense. “Those who can work diligently and pay loans should be able to buy a house,” young people said. The barrier of getting a loan seems too high for them.
The government, which had claimed that there was enough supply of houses, switched to supply-centered policies. However, housing prices already went up significantly. Every factor surrounding housing for young people from jobs and loans to housing supply is poor. The government should give young people hope that they can find a house of their own by increasing the housing supply. A safety net, including rental houses and support for deposit-based lease, should be expanded and a loan system for young people should be examined in detail.