KAB slander suit seen as crackdown on critic

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KAB slander suit seen as crackdown on critic

Korea Appraisal Board (KAB)’s labor union filed a defamation suit against a real estate professor who has been critical of the organization.

Analysts criticized the move as an attempt to suppress legitimate research.

The board’s labor union filed a criminal complaint for slander against Jung Su-yeon, a professor at Jeju University, Thursday with the Daegu Dongbu Police Station. KAB is headquartered in Daegu.

The KAB is a state-run company under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport that calculates real estate valuations for taxes.

The complaint accuses Jung of having defamed KAB and its employees in public multiple times. Jung, secretary of the Asian Real Estate Society and vice president of the Korea Appraisal Society (KAS), is well known for criticizing the government’s assessment process for single-family houses.

“[KAB] makes many errors when determining the assessed value for properties as calculations are made by non-experts, not appraisers,” Jung said on one occasion, according to the complaint.

Jung also said the lack of transparency and the inaccuracy of KAB’s calculations distort tax justice and deprive taxpayers of their rights, the complaint said.

“We previously sent Jung a statement to demand an apology and a promise to discontinue,” said Yang Hong-suk, head of the KAB labor union. “But we did not get a response, so we brought this matter to the court.”

Jung responded she was “just doing research in her expertise as a scholar.”

“She had no intention of defaming the KAB, and even if she did, her comments are factual and align with the public interest, so they are lawful,” Jung’s attorney said.

Some experts argue that the KAB has crossed the line.

“The KAB is picking a fight with academic research results to constrict scholars’ criticisms,” said KAS President Rho Tae-ug. “The move is not normal for a state-run company.”

Police said they have finished investigating the plaintiff and are considering moving the case to Jeju, closer to where Jung lives and works.

BY KIM MIN-JOONG [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]
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