As public criticism grew over suspicions of speculation by the members of the Korea Land and Housing Corporation and it is beginning to affect the National Assembly, the Democratic Party of Korea proposed a real estate speculation investigation of all 300 National Assembly members. The People Power Party agreed with the proposal but said it should start with the Democratic Party of Korea during the floor leader meeting on Friday as the ruling party, which is in trouble with some of its members suspected of involvement in real estate speculation, seems to “water down” the issue.
Although the exhaustive investigation agreed by the ruling and opposition parties fell through, it is not an issue to be disregarded as if nothing happened. People’s suspicion and anger over potential speculation by those in the public sector using development-related information are growing. It is only a natural step to conduct a thorough investigation into National Assembly members who have easy access to development information.
In this regard, the role of the ruling party in charge of state affairs is especially important. There are five members of the Democratic Party of Korea – Yangyi Won-young, Kim Kyung-man, Yang Hyang-ja, Seo Young-seok, and Kim Ju-young – accused of potential speculation for owning land in the metropolitan and nearby area. Most of them are strongly denying the accusation, but truths need to be investigated. While the ruling party is investigating real estate speculation in Phase 3 new cities with its own ethical investigation group, even its own members are worried that investigation based on voluntary report will not be much effective. This is why there are growing doubts about the integrity of the party’s suggestion of exhaustive investigation.
Rather than repeatedly insisting on the simultaneous investigation of all 300 members of the National Assembly, the Democratic Party of Korea should lead by example by proposing a phased investigation method, etc. If the party conducts a thorough investigation starting from its National Assembly members to elective local assembly members and the heads of local governments and calls for the participation of the People Power Party, the opposition party will not be able to continue to reject the investigation.
Even though the Democratic Party of Korea proposed an investigation led by the National Assembly speaker, it may seem like “self-investigation” to the public. An institution independent from the National Assembly, which has inquired into the real estate issues of high-ranking public officials, such as Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice, should handle the investigation and be given support from government institutions, such as the National Tax Service, in order to earn people’s trust. The scope of the investigation should be also expanded to the direct relatives of National Assembly members, including their parents and brothers and sisters. The People Power Party should also try to earn people’s support by preemptively responding and requesting a thorough investigation by a third institution, rather than insisting that the ruling party should be investigated first.