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Court: Developer Should Show Land Costs

Posted November. 04, 2005 07:13,   


A court ruled yesterday that the Korea Land Corporation (KLC) should make public the cost of the land developed by it. Although courts had ruled earlier that the actual construction cost of apartments should be disclosed in January 2000, this is the first time a court has ruled that the cost of land should be unveiled.

Regarding a lawsuit the Paju Publication, Culture, and Information Industry Complex Association filed, insisting that the KLC should disclose the cost of its land purchases after buying a factory site in an industry complex planned by the KLC, the Seoul Administration Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff yesterday.

The KLC is a government-funded institution that seeks to develop land from the viewpoint of public interest. This institution makes profits by purchasing rice fields, dry fields, and rivers, and building social overhead capital facilities such as roads and water supply and drainage facilities in those areas, and then selling them to corporations.

If this ruling is settled, the KLC should make most of its land development cost public, which naturally leads to the disclosure of KLC’s profits.

The court said, “The profits KLC made through its development projects should ultimately be returned to the public, given that it made profits through developing the environment,” adding, “The cost required for development projects are not business secrets.”

The court also said, “It is desirable for the KLC to clearly reveal how the cost of land purchases is decided on in a bid to prevent ill effects stemming from government-funded institutions’ administrative expediency and abuse of their authority.” The KLC insisted, “The cost of land comes under the heading of business secrets. If this is disclosed, it might hinder us from making profits through lawful projects.”

The plaintiff signed a contract to buy a factory site about 111,700 pyeong in size in the Paju Publication, Culture and Information Industrial Complex for about 67.83 billion won, and paid the money in 10 installments from February 1999 to last year.

The KLC originally planned to settle related expenses by disclosing the cost of land to the plaintiff after completing the creation of land, but turned down the plaintiff’s claims to made public the cost of land in May last year.

Ji-Seong Jeon verso@donga.com