[EDITORIALS]Lies and statistics

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[EDITORIALS]Lies and statistics

The government has again exaggerated and distorted some statistical data. The Government Information Agency published a booklet to publicize the comprehensive government plan to control real estate speculation that was announced on Aug. 31. Reading the brochure, one gets suspicious about the government’s intent; it reads more like a effort to incite the people to anger against “the haves” than one to explain efforts to stabilize the real estate market.
To emphasize the harm done by real estate speculation and the need for market reforms, the book asserts, “While 45 percent of the population has to live in rented houses, certain people own hundreds of houses.” But 10 people who are said to own over 300 houses each are seven housing rental business owners with government licenses and owners of three apartment construction companies who registered unsold apartments in their names. They have nothing to do with real estate speculation, but the book painted them as malicious speculators who gobbled up hundreds of housing units in the market.
Another exaggeration is that “about 65 percent of privately owned land is occupied by 1.3 percent of the richest people, while the remaining 98.7 percent of people have to share 35 percent of the land.”
First of all, it is meaningless to compare the number of landowners with the total population, including babes in arms. Heads of households generally own real estate, so it is more correct to say that five percent of the population owns 65 percent of the land, if we assume that the average household consists of four people. The assertion that “it takes only two weeks for the price of an apartment to jump over 200 million won ($195,000), but it takes 27 years for an ordinary person to buy a house,” is also based on faulty comparisons. By comparing examples of extreme cases, the book tries to stir up the anger of ordinary citizens who do not own a house.
What on earth does the government, which is supposed to promote social integration, intend to do by dividing the people and boosting confrontations with distorted statistics like this? This administration has been severely criticized before for distorting statistics after the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs published data on land ownership and when the National Tax Service made public a list of multiple-house owners. Nevertheless, it has again published statistical data that has been tampered with, and it is embarrassing that the government wasted 4.3 billon won to publicize its real estate policy in this way.
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