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Seoul Mayor Lee Attacks Government’s Real Estate Policy

Seoul Mayor Lee Attacks Government’s Real Estate Policy

Posted June. 16, 2005 03:04,   


“The current government only focuses on killing the Gangnam area, and its real-estate policy can’t be even called a policy,” said Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak on June 15. Recently, the mayor also criticized the government’s real estate policy, saying that its scale was as narrow as that of a county.

In his lecture, “Measures for Another Leap Forward of the Korean Economy,” held by the Grand National Party in the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Lee harshly commented that the government plan to build innovative cities and relocate public institutions to local areas is now turning the whole nation into a venue for speculation.

About the recent house price jump, the mayor said that the rich in Gangnam area are so mad at the sudden rise of real estate in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province, that they together have decided not to sell, which is now boosting the rise in real estate prices of Gangnam, too. Lee pointed out that the government’s excessive pressure on Gangnam is the real problem.

“Such a policy only causes burdens on people living in the Gangbuk area. For those who are capable of paying five million won for property taxes, paying an additional five million won would not be much of a problem. However, for those who only have paid 100 thousand won for property tax, paying additional 100 to 200 thousand won could be threatening to their living. A good hunter catches a wild boar on its path. But what the government is now catching are only rabbits and ordinary people gathering plants,” Lee said cynically.

Furthermore, the mayor added that “today in South Korea, all entrepreneurs are considered subjects to be reformed, and those in power consider themselves exempt from any reform. However, they may be the real subjects that need reform. Maybe the reason that the public is eagerly looking forward to seeing this administration end is because those who actually need to be reformed keep pressuring the public to reform, while they remain unchanged.”

“There is only one solution left to save the nation from the current crisis and solve several problems, and that decision is up to you,” the mayor ambiguously said. His comment can be also interpreted as a message asking for support for him.

Governor Sohn Hak-kyu of Gyeonggi Province also attended a conference held by new right groups, including the Liberty Union, and said that recent government policies reminded him of an old saying: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The governor criticized that recklessly issued regulations to restrain housing prices in the Gangnam area were actually turning the whole nation into a venue for speculation.

Seung-Heon Lee ddr@donga.com