Japan, Korea, China: Three peas in a pod

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Japan, Korea, China: Three peas in a pod

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On April 1, the housing registration agency in Beijing was crowded with people trying to buy and sell houses. One complained that the 20 percent real estate transfer income tax was too much. Last weekend, the municipal government announced a strict plan to discourage real estate speculation. Single residents can own only one house and the transfer income tax went from 1 percent of the sale price to 20 percent of the profit from the transaction.

But why did Beijing citizens rush to the registration agency? They would still have to pay the same tax rate. “As time goes by, sellers will include the amount of tax to be paid in the housing price, so we have to hurry,” said one man. Chinese authorities have announced dozens of plans to fight real estate speculation that has been rampant since 2005, but the market has adjusted to changes and continued to go up.

“The tax increased to 20 percent, but specifics have not been announced. If I register soon, I may be able to pay less,” said the man. It was not determined whether the tax would be based on the sale or listing price, and how transfer profit would be calculated. The first day of the new real estate policy reported by Chinese media seems so familiar. Many Koreans would say, “That’s what happened in Korea 10 years ago.”

On the same day, the Korean government announced a stimulus plan for the stagnant real estate market, calling it “normalization.” It included unprecedented drastic measures, including exempting the purchase of existing units from the transfer tax for five years. But the response has been lukewarm. I asked a friend knowledgeable in the real estate market for the last 30 years. “The mentality is dead, so no prescription works,” he replied. When I was not fully convinced by his answer, he added, “Who knows how the National Assembly will change the plan?” Indeed, no one knows if the new policy will ever be enacted.

Also on the same day, some Japanese media reported on the effects of Abenomics. One said the real estate market had begun to respond. Leases in downtown Tokyo are rising fast, and new developments get many inquiries. These reports were infused with the expectation that the two lost decades may be finally over. What would Japanese say if they saw Korea’s real estate measures? They may think the same thing happened 10 years ago in Japan.

E. H. Carr said history flows from the river of the future, through the present, then to the past. If you replace history with real estate, we may say, real estate flows from Japan, through Korea and then down to China. How about economy, politics, society and nation? On these questions, the government has always said, “Korea is different from Japan,” or “there won’t be a ‘lost decade’ for Korea.” Are we sure about that?

The author is an editorial writer

for the JoongAng Ilbo.
On April 1, the housing registration agency in Beijing was crowded with people trying to buy and sell houses. One complained that the 20 percent real estate transfer income tax was too much. Last weekend, the municipal government announced a strict plan to discourage real estate speculation. Single residents can own only one house and the transfer income tax went from 1 percent of the sale price to 20 percent of the profit from the transaction.

But why did Beijing citizens rush to the registration agency? They would still have to pay the same tax rate. “As time goes by, sellers will include the amount of tax to be paid in the housing price, so we have to hurry,” said one man. Chinese authorities have announced dozens of plans to fight real estate speculation that has been rampant since 2005, but the market has adjusted to changes and continued to go up.

“The tax increased to 20 percent, but specifics have not been announced. If I register soon, I may be able to pay less,” said the man. It was not determined whether the tax would be based on the sale or listing price, and how transfer profit would be calculated. The first day of the new real estate policy reported by Chinese media seems so familiar. Many Koreans would say, “That’s what happened in Korea 10 years ago.”

On the same day, the Korean government announced a stimulus plan for the stagnant real estate market, calling it “normalization.” It included unprecedented drastic measures, including exempting the purchase of existing units from the transfer tax for five years. But the response has been lukewarm. I asked a friend knowledgeable in the real estate market for the last 30 years. “The mentality is dead, so no prescription works,” he replied. When I was not fully convinced by his answer, he added, “Who knows how the National Assembly will change the plan?” Indeed, no one knows if the new policy will ever be enacted.

Also on the same day, some Japanese media reported on the effects of Abenomics. One said the real estate market had begun to respond. Leases in downtown Tokyo are rising fast, and new developments get many inquiries. These reports were infused with the expectation that the two lost decades may be finally over. What would Japanese say if they saw Korea’s real estate measures? They may think the same thing happened 10 years ago in Japan.

E. H. Carr said history flows from the river of the future, through the present, then to the past. If you replace history with real estate, we may say, real estate flows from Japan, through Korea and then down to China. How about economy, politics, society and nation? On these questions, the government has always said, “Korea is different from Japan,” or “there won’t be a ‘lost decade’ for Korea.” Are we sure about that?

The author is an editorial writer

for the JoongAng Ilbo.
On April 1, the housing registration agency in Beijing was crowded with people trying to buy and sell houses. One complained that the 20 percent real estate transfer income tax was too much. Last weekend, the municipal government announced a strict plan to discourage real estate speculation. Single residents can own only one house and the transfer income tax went from 1 percent of the sale price to 20 percent of the profit from the transaction.

But why did Beijing citizens rush to the registration agency? They would still have to pay the same tax rate. “As time goes by, sellers will include the amount of tax to be paid in the housing price, so we have to hurry,” said one man. Chinese authorities have announced dozens of plans to fight real estate speculation that has been rampant since 2005, but the market has adjusted to changes and continued to go up.

“The tax increased to 20 percent, but specifics have not been announced. If I register soon, I may be able to pay less,” said the man. It was not determined whether the tax would be based on the sale or listing price, and how transfer profit would be calculated. The first day of the new real estate policy reported by Chinese media seems so familiar. Many Koreans would say, “That’s what happened in Korea 10 years ago.”

On the same day, the Korean government announced a stimulus plan for the stagnant real estate market, calling it “normalization.” It included unprecedented drastic measures, including exempting the purchase of existing units from the transfer tax for five years. But the response has been lukewarm. I asked a friend knowledgeable in the real estate market for the last 30 years. “The mentality is dead, so no prescription works,” he replied. When I was not fully convinced by his answer, he added, “Who knows how the National Assembly will change the plan?” Indeed, no one knows if the new policy will ever be enacted.

Also on the same day, some Japanese media reported on the effects of Abenomics. One said the real estate market had begun to respond. Leases in downtown Tokyo are rising fast, and new developments get many inquiries. These reports were infused with the expectation that the two lost decades may be finally over. What would Japanese say if they saw Korea’s real estate measures? They may think the same thing happened 10 years ago in Japan.

E. H. Carr said history flows from the river of the future, through the present, then to the past. If you replace history with real estate, we may say, real estate flows from Japan, through Korea and then down to China. How about economy, politics, society and nation? On these questions, the government has always said, “Korea is different from Japan,” or “there won’t be a ‘lost decade’ for Korea.” Are we sure about that?

*The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yi Jung-jae














1일 베이징. 주택등기발급소 앞. 아침부터 집을 사고 팔려는 사람이 몰렸다. 한 시민은 “20%나 양도소득세를 물리는 게 말이 되냐”며 볼멘소리를 했다. 베이징 시 정부는 지난 주말 나름 강력한 투기대책을 발표했다. 독신자는 집을 한 채만 살 수 있게 하고, 집값의 1%만 내던 세금도 집을 팔아 생긴 이득의 20%를 내도록 크게 올렸다. 그런데 왜 등기소에 사람들이 몰렸을까. 일찍 간다고 세금을 깎아줄 것도 아닌데. 궁금증은 곧 풀렸다. “시간이 지나면 집을 파는 사람이 세금까지 집값에 얹을지 모르잖아요. 서둘러야죠.” 2005년부터 내놓은 투기 대책만 수십 건. 정부 대책을 비웃듯 집값이 오른 ‘학습효과’다. 거기에 하나 더. “양도세를 20% 매긴다지만 방침만 있지 아직 세세한 규정이 없어요. 얼른 등기를 마치면 세금을 덜 낼 수도 있잖아요.” 실거래가로 할지, 장부가를 어느 정도 인정할지, 양도 차익을 어떻게 따질 건지 아직 정해진 게 없다는 얘기다. 신화통신 등 중국 언론이 전한 부동산 대책 실시 첫날 풍경이다. (독자의 이해를 돕기 위해 일부 재구성했다) 어디서 많이 본 듯한 장면 아닌가. “10년 전 우리 얘기 아냐”며 진작 무릎을 친 이도 있음 직하다.
같은 날 한국. 정부는 부동산 시장 활성화(정부는 ‘정상화’라고 부른다) 대책을 발표했다. 과거에 없던 나름 강력한 대책도 내놨다. 기존 주택을 사도 5년간 양도세를 면제해주는 것 등이다. 시장의 반응은 ‘글쎄~’다. 30년 이 바닥에서 내공을 키웠다는 ‘선수’ A에게 물어봤다. “심리가 죽었으니, 백약이 무효요.” 한마디로 끊었다. 좀 아쉽다. 그러자 A씨, 기색을 눈치채곤 한마디 더 붙인다. “국회에서 어떻게 바뀔지도 모르고….” 국회 통과돼 봐야 안다는 얘기다. 혹 이 군데군데 어설픈 엇박자까지 중국이 보고 배운 걸까.
역시 같은 날 일본. 몇몇 언론에서 아베노믹스를 효과를 보도했다. 그 중 부동산 시장이 꿈틀거린다는 기사가 눈에 든다. 도쿄 신주쿠의 임대료가 가파르게 오르고, 아파트 분양 문의가 빗발친다는 얘기도 있다. 이번엔 진짜 ‘잃어버린 20년’이 끝날 것이란 기대감도 곁들였다. 이들이 우리 부동산 대책을 봤다면 뭐랬을까. “10년 전 우리 얘기 아냐”며 무릎을 치진 않았을까.
E.H 카는 “역사는 미래의 강물에서 현재를 거쳐 과거로 흐른다”고 했다. 여기서 역사를 부동산으로 살짝 바꾸면? ‘부동산은 일본에서 한국을 거쳐 중국으로 흐른다’는 명제가 가능할까. 내친김에 조금 더. 부동산을 경제로 바꾸면? 정치·사회는? 또 국가는? 이런 질문에 정부는 늘 “한국은 일본과 다르다”며 “잃어버린 10년은 없을 것”이라고 말해 왔다. 과연 그런가.

이정재 논설위원
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