We have urgently convened the 7th Anti-Corruption Policy Consultative Council meeting today to declare the eradication of real estate-related corruption in our society as the top priority of our anti-corruption policy at this time and to make a strong drive for government-wide countermeasures.
We have to take the people’s rage and rebuke gravely. Real estate speculation by public officials and employees at a public institution has trampled on people’s simple dream of purchasing their own homes and their basic demand for equal opportunity. It has also brought down public expectations that our society is becoming a fairer one. The honor and pride of the vast majority of civil servants have been hurt, and trust in the entire civil service has been shattered.
Public outrage, I believe, is being directed at more fundamental problems beyond the recently revealed speculation by those in public service. We have long been aware of such structural problems as huge unearned income from accruing property values, ever-widening disparities in assets, the increasingly unattainable dream of becoming a homeowner, lives defined by real estate and a newly emerging status society. We, however, have not been able to tackle them. Occasionally, the causes of these problems have been uncovered – speculative acts and the leaking of insider information in the process of urban development as well as real estate investment scams combined with illegal and unwarranted financial loans. Nonetheless, we have been unable to root them out either.
Now, we have to go back to square one and start anew. The recent scandal should be thoroughly and severely dealt with. At the same time, efforts should be made to resolve even the structural and fundamental problems of real estate-related corruption. I don’t believe that this Administration will be able to solve them all. However, the solid first step to start off a quest for that path must be taken properly. I ask everyone to utilize this public rage as a driving force to fundamentally clean up real estate-related corruption while being justifiably chastised.
The starting point should be the thorough examination and investigation of speculative acts involving real estate investment scams and public officials in the course of urban development. Regardless of which ministry and agency they belong to and their positions, everything must be clearly disclosed, so they can be sternly dealt with. I urge you to mobilize all of our country’s administrative and investigative power. In the process, the scopes of an examination and investigation may need to be expanded. Nevertheless, I ask you to relentlessly uncover the truth, irrespective of any political advantages or disadvantages. Revealed malfeasance must be strictly punished, and all ill-gotten gains should be seized. Real estate transactions through borrowed names, tax evasion, illegal funds and unlawful financial loans combined with speculation must be investigated until every detail comes to light.
Along with these moves, strong measures to eradicate speculation and prevent its recurrence should be thoroughly implemented to fundamentally preclude the possibility of real estate-related corruption. First and foremost, such corruption must be completely blocked in the civil service. I urge you to expand the property registration system to include all public officials so that changes in their assets and the processes of wealth accumulation since their appointments can be monitored at any time.
In addition, we must seize this opportunity to enact the Conflict of Interest Prevention Act concerning public officials. As a system to prevent public officials from pursuing personal gain, this Act was discussed in the 19th National Assembly along with the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act, also known as the Kim Young-Ran Act, but only the latter was legislated. This could be attributed to a lack of will on our part. I urge you to take this opportunity to institutionalize the Conflict of Interest Prevention Act without fail to essentially nip corruption among public officials in the bud. I ask for special cooperation from the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the real estate speculation prevalent in our society must be stopped and a transparent and fair real estate transaction order established. Unfair real estate transactions and market disruptions will be prohibited, and a real estate transaction analysis institute will be put in place as a permanent monitoring body. We will make sure that profits cannot be expected from speculative land transactions, and the scrutiny of farmland purchases will be significantly strengthened. We will also devise a system that puts land speculators at a disadvantage when it comes to economic gains.
Increasing compensation by densely planting trees or saplings on land expected to be designated for development or expropriation has been a long-running ploy. In fact, this has been repeated for decades and become a scheme that even innocent farmers have long known. While it was difficult to monitor each and every property in the past, it is an enormous shame that such deep-rooted evil has not been eradicated even in these times when the current state of a piece of land can be constantly checked for changes through aerial or drone photography. I ask those in the civil service to bring about sweeping innovation that eliminates real estate-related corruption.
I urge the National Assembly to jointly become a leading agent of reform as well. Normalizing real estate transactions has become an unavoidable task of the times. In addition to efforts to lead by example as public servants elected by the people, I look forward to them fulfilling the demands of the people by pooling their strength for institutional reform.
The Korean Government has been faring relatively well in managing economic policies even amid the COVID-19 crisis. This has also been confirmed by related indicators and evaluated highly worldwide. There is a long way toward a complete recovery, but I am confident that Korea will outperform other countries.
However, our real estate policy has been unable to avoid a harsh assessment from the public. The criticism raining down on us now is also very painful. I urge you in particular to have a strong commitment to seeing this as the last opportunity for this Administration to reverse the public’s assessment of our real estate policy as well.