[Letters] Revamping land registration maps

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[Letters] Revamping land registration maps

Early this year, the JoongAng Ilbo presented a New Year’s agenda to make Korean history a mandatory subject at schools. I think the project was timely. Until now, Korean history education has been stuck in the ice age.

After it was excluded from the bar exam, Korean history no longer was a part of various state servants’ exams. Even at the Korea Cadastral Survey Corporation, where I have been working, the subject has long since disappeared from the recruitment test.

When we become indifferent toward history education, our past and roots will be lost. Without knowing the past, it is impossible to have the right perspective toward the present and future.

The cadastral survey system is the basic data for the country’s land administration, and it is also used to manage the people’s property.

Without knowing history, however, the system can’t make any developments. We need to understand who created the land and forest registration and why and how they were used in order to make improvements in the future.

The land and forest registration maps that we are currently using were created 100 years ago, during Japanese colonial rule. The purpose was to levy taxes and exploit land. It is a shame to continue using these today.

Although it’s been 60 years since the Korean government was established, the cadastre system has not escaped from the remnants of Japanese colonial period.

There are more serious problems. The Japanese colonial government hurriedly surveyed Korean land with its analog equipment in 1910 by using Tokyo as the point of origin. Therefore, the maps have many errors.

And the turmoil of our society, such as liberation, the Korean War and massive development have damaged the land registration maps.

They became aged, damaged, deformed and lost. And many survey origin points disappeared and buildings were expanded without permission. And the shape of the land also changed.

Therefore there are significant discrepancies between the maps and the actual lay of the land, and more and more places were determined to be impossible to measure year by year. As of now, about 15 percent of Korean land is determined to be impossible to measure.

Land disputes between neighbors also costs hundreds of billion won every year. If the current situation continues, the cadastre system will be paralyzed and a serious social crisis will loom.

Of course, the government has tried to make improvements. Since 1994, a comprehensive land survey project was proposed, but it was delayed every time because it was not the top priority.

Since last year, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs has been pushing forward with the project, but no tangible progress has been made. Taiwan, a friendly Korean competitor, has already introduced a new cadastre system, and Japan also made about 50 percent progress in remeasurement project.

Today, updating the cadastre system has become an urgent national and historical task.

If the project is implemented step by step over a long period of time, the government’s burden can be lightened.

I have high expectations that relevant laws will be enacted as soon as possible for this important project to launch.

Kim Young-ho, CEO Korea Cadastral Survey Corporation
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