[EDITORIALS]Your typical family villa

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[EDITORIALS]Your typical family villa

The main opposition leader Lee Hoi-chang's rented villa in Gahoe-dong, central Seoul, has thrown Mr. Lee into the rough political seas of attack and counterattack. The ruling Millennium Democratic Party has said that the villa is too luxurious and has raised the question of how Mr. Lee's eldest son could afford to live in such upscale housing. Having found out that Mr. Lee's married daughter also lives in the villa, the ruling party blasted Mr. Lee for creating a "luxurious family town." Each unit of the villa measures 346 square meters. Mr. Lee and his wife live on the third floor, his daughter on the fourth. The ownership of the villa units on the third and fourth floor belong to the father of Mr. Lee's sun-in-law. The unit on the second floor is rented out by a relative, who in turn rents it out free to Mr. Lee's eldest son and his wife whenever they come to Seoul. Whatever the legalities concerning the renting, Mr. Lee's and his children's residence strikes a stark contrast to a public that is devastated by soaring apartment prices and the lack of rental homes.

What distresses the public even more is the feeble explanation the GNP has offered. The party has clarified issues only when they are raised by the ruling party. Thus, the explanations and the clarifications come across as unpersuasive. When the MDP raised the issue that the eldest son was working as a researcher at the University of Hawaii's East-West Center without pay, the party answered that "his pay is higher than expected." Many Grand Nationals think talking about Mr. Lee's family should not have been made a taboo, which has led the GNP to make inappropriate responses.

Mr. Lee has been too complacent about public opinion. As a politician, one can rely on wealthy in-laws. But the average Korean is curious about Mr. Lee's luxurious villa and how he can afford to rent out three units simultaneously. Of course, the ruling party's attack on Mr. Lee smacks of attempting to counter the damage they received from the irregularities of Lee Soo-dong and Kwon Roh-kap's political funds. But Mr. Lee's and his married children's residence is a separate issue that should be answered completely and quickly by Mr. Lee.
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