Foreign land ownership increased by 3.9% in 2014

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Foreign land ownership increased by 3.9% in 2014

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Foreigners are purchasing an increasing amount of Korean land as a result of major property deregulations, a government report showed Thursday.

Foreign ownership of land grew remarkably in 2014 from a year earlier, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said.

The amount of land owned by foreign individuals and corporations stood at nearly 235 million square meters (2.53 billion square feet) as of Dec. 31, 2014, up 3.9 percent from a year earlier, the report showed. The land was valued at 33.6 trillion won ($30 billion).

The growth is partly due to the increase in Chinese investors purchasing real estate on the southern resort island of Jeju, it said. Foreign entities owned as much as 17 million square meters of land in Jeju, up 51.6 percent from a year earlier. That amounts to 0.9 percent of the island’s total area, equal to an area twice the size of Yeouido, an island in Seoul. Chinese investors and firms owned 50.2 percent of that land.

Nationwide, Koreans who only hold a foreign passport made up the largest share of foreign landowners. They owned about 126 million square meters, or 54 percent.

Joint ventures between foreign and Korean companies accounted for 76 million square meters. Companies wholly owned by foreigners held 19 million square meters.

By country, Americans possessed about 124 million square meters of land, the largest foreign land-owning group, followed by Europeans with 25.4 million square meters.

For the entire nation, Chinese entities own 5.6 percent of land possessed by foreigners while U.S. firms and investors own 52.8 percent.

Largely due to the real estate investment immigration system introduced in 2010, more Chinese are investing in property, especially leisure projects in Jeju, the report said.

BY SONG SU-HYUN [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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