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Construction Minister, 2 Aides Resign

Posted November. 15, 2006 03:02,   


Minister of Construction and Transportation (MOCT) Choo Byung-jik and two presidential aides tendered their resignations to President Roh Moo-hyun on Tuesday, holding themselves responsible for the failure of the government`s real estate policies.

The two presidential aides are Lee Baek-mahn, senior presidential secretary for public information, and Chung Moon-soo, a presidential economic policy advisor, Cheong Wa Dae said.

President Roh will reportedly accept their resignations on Wednesday and look for their successors. Although it may look like the top officials voluntarily tendered their resignations, they were virtually dismissed over their failures regarding real estate policies.

With the replacement of the three officials, who have recently triggered fierce public anger over real estate policies, experts believe that the government is likely to change its real estate policy strategy from restraining demand to increasing supply.

"Minister Choo, Lee and Chung tendered their resignations separately this morning and Cheong Wa Dae Chief of Staff Lee Byung-wan informed the president of their decisions in the morning," said Yoon Tae-young, spokesman of Cheong Wa Dae. “The president did not say anything in particular after receiving the report.”

Yoon said that they seem to have decided to step down so as to lessen political burden on President Roh, who has faced mounting criticism for real estate policy failures.

Minister Choo has been asked to step down from both the ruling and opposition parties for causing a housing price hike in metropolitan areas by announcing a hasty plan to construct a new residential town last month.

Lee has been criticized for posting an article last Friday on a government website, “Cheong Wa Dae Briefing,” saying, “You will regret it if you purchase a house now and speculative buyers have caused housing prices to rise.” Chung, who entered Cheong Wa Dae in January 2005, played a pivotal role in drawing up the August 31 and the March 30 real estate policies.

In case of the MOCT, the vice minister is expected to assume the role held by Choo until a successor is appointed after undergoing a parliamentary confirmation hearing.

Lee and Chung are also expected to be replaced as soon as their successors are named.

As for the replacement of Choo, Lee Chun-hee, the director of the Multifunctional Administrative City Construction, Kim Yong-duk, the vice-minister of the MOTC, and Han Haeng-soo, the chief executive of the Korea National Housing Corporation, are being mentioned as possible candidates.

“It is natural for Choo to step down as he was the one responsible for the anti-market policies on real estate, but President Roh, who pledged to fix real estate problems, also should have apologized,” GNP spokesman Yoo Ki-jun said.