Lee Jae-myung puts real estate reforms at top of platform

Posted on : 2021-10-28 17:53 KST Modified on : 2021-10-28 17:53 KST
Lee’s aggressive real estate policies seem to be part of his plan to recover from the Daejang development scandal
Democratic Party nominee for president, Lee Jae-myung, signs the guestbook of a vendor during a visit to Sinwon Market in Seoul’s Gwanak District on Wednesday morning. (Kim Bong-gyu/The Hankyoreh)
Democratic Party nominee for president, Lee Jae-myung, signs the guestbook of a vendor during a visit to Sinwon Market in Seoul’s Gwanak District on Wednesday morning. (Kim Bong-gyu/The Hankyoreh)

Democratic Party presidential nominee Lee Jae-myung said Wednesday that real estate was “clearly the most important issue in this election.”

“I plan to use policy alternatives so we can move beyond South Korea being a country of unearned income from real estate,” he declared.

Analysts read his remarks as meant to assuage South Koreans’ anger over skyrocketing real estate prices under the Moon Jae-in administration, while tackling his own Achilles heel with a scandal involving a development project in Seongnam’s Daejang neighborhood.

In a message posted to Facebook Wednesday, Lee wrote, “If we cannot win the support of a public that is disappointed with and angry about the state of real estate, then a fourth democratic administration and bold reforms will remain out of reach.”

“Through various taxation, finance and institutional reforms, I will see to it that people who want to buy a house can buy a house, and the option of long-term rental will also be available in the public sector,” he said.

“We will move forward toward becoming a country where people do not worry about homes — a fair society where hard work comes first,” he said.

This real estate pledge was Lee’s first mention of a concrete policy since he was named the official Democratic Party presidential candidate on Oct. 10. His decision was based on the determination that his chances in next year’s election hinge on popular sentiment concerning the real estate situation.

“We see feelings about real estate as the key attitude that is going to determine the outcome of the election; that’s why he is discussing it first,” said a member of Lee’s election camp.

“It’s going to be key to deal with people’s feelings about real estate, so we’re hard at work developing related policies,” they added.

Previously, Lee presented a vision centering around his pledge for “basic housing,” where he promised to change the existing housing paradigm and clamp down on excessive speculation earnings.

As the main component of his real estate platform, basic housing involves an approach in which housing in well-positioned residential areas — including ones adjacent to subway stations — are made available for people to live in for 30 or more years with affordable rents on par with construction costs. Lee has declared plans to build one million units of basic housing during his term if he is elected.

“The most urgent issues at the moment are resolving livelihood issues and polarization,” said another member of his election camp, adding that it was “especially urgent to resolve the asset polarization and real estate issues, which have intensified under the Moon Jae-in administration.”

Another factor in the decision appears to be Lee’s aim of using aggressive real estate policies to deal with the Daejang development scandal, which has been a stumbling block for his campaign.

Noting that the public’s harshest criticisms regarding the Daejang allegations have centered on the excessive dividends paid to private developers, Lee has made the legislation of a development profit recovery system into a key part of his policy platform. He has also signaled his plans for a nationwide expansion of policies that he implemented during his time as governor of Gyeonggi Province.

“The land transaction permit system for foreign nationals and corporations, the systems for returning development profits to provincial residents, and the disclosure of construction and apartment sale costs to deter the rise in housing prices were all successful when implemented by Gyeonggi Province, and they represent a policy alternative that will soon be the standard for the Republic of Korea,” he said.

“The new direction and outline for real estate policy to go with a National Assembly for democratic reforms can be seen by looking at Gyeonggi Province,” he added, emphasizing his policy efforts as Gyeonggi Province governor.

By Seo Young-ji, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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