Posted March. 22, 2004 22:59,

One hundred seventy-seven 11-square-meter units, 29 49-square-meter units, and 14 54-square-meter units.

This is a quick rundown of reconstructed apartment units that a construction company sold in its February pre-construction offering in Yeoksam-dong, Seoul.

Except for 241 units earmarked for individual buyers out of its 541 units, the size of about 300 units, which are due to be sold to members of old residents of the complex, are under construction ranges from 44 to 54 square meters.

This clearly skewed proportion is not in breach of regulations on the reconstruction of apartment complexes.

The government commits redevelopers to build a certain number of small units in proportion to the total number of units they reconstruct in a move to provide more housing units in the overpopulated areas in Seoul, Incheon, Uijoengbu, and Seongnam.

For developers who received reconstruction permits before the Sept. 5, 2003 measure on the real estate market, 30 percent of their units are required to be smaller than 18 square meters.

Since the measure, the government raised the ratio of small units that are required against the total units. As for a 300-plus-unit reconstruction project, at least 20 percent of units should be less than 18 square meters in terms of floor space. More than 40 percent should between 18-plus square meters and 25.7 square meters, and the remaining 40 percent should be more than 25.7 square meters.

As for projects of 20 to 300 units, 60 percent of units should be smaller than 25.7 square meters.

The bigger the unit, the more popular it becomes in the Gangnam area of Seoul. Developers use loopholes and fill the small-unit quotas with 10-square-meter units and build 40 square-meter or larger units. The proportion of reconstructed housing sizes has become skewed as a result of the governments armchair policy and the exploitation of it by developers.

Industry insiders said that about 1,800 out of this years 3,400 reconstructed units in Gangnam, or more than 50 percent, will be about 10 square meters.

The Ministry of Construction and Transportation said on March 22 that it is considering introducing clear criteria for small units. For example, instead of loosely defining small units, it will give the clear size of small units.

The criteria are yet to be worked out. However, once introduced, they will stem the massive construction 10 square-meter units.

We are currently reviewing the urban and residence environment law, Han Chang-seop, director of housing said. When we complete and amend it, we will enact it next year, pending the National Assemblys approval.

Kwang-Hyun Kim kkh@donga.com