The land minister must resign

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The land minister must resign

 Land Minister Kim Hyun-mee, a third-term lawmaker, has been commanding the Moon Jae-in administration’s real estate policy for the past three years, ever since the launch of the liberal government. However, despite all policy tools available to her to control soaring real estate prices, the median price of apartments in Seoul has skyrocketed by 52 percent. Kim seems to take pride in her failed real estate policy. When an independent lawmaker denounced her failure in a session last week at the National Assembly, she nonchalantly rebutted, “Our government’s policies are working in a comprehensive way.” She put all the blame on the media.

We are embarrassed about her twisted logic. Kim stressed that her ministry had announced only four sets of measures so far to curb mounting home prices — instead of the 21 sets of measures fully reported by the press. She left out a series of critical measures aimed at raising property taxes and regulating mortgages by the Finance Ministry and the Financial Services Commission to help her tackle the challenge. Kim must recognize that she is a key minister in charge of orchestrating all of the government’s real estate measures. That’s her job, after all.

The biggest problem with the Moon administration’s real estate policy is that it forces the public to follow guidelines so tough that even government officials refuse to carry out. For instance, even after Moon’s Chief of Staff Noh Young-min ordered his aides in the Blue House to sell their extra homes, many of them — along with other senior government officials — are still multiple homeowners.

Above all, the government excessively regulated the real estate market through incredible tax hikes and suffocating restrictions on loans and applications for new apartments. This move eventually led to a decrease in supplies and higher housing prices, which make things even more difficult for people without a home to buy.

Ordinary citizens are sick of the government’s real estate policy. Whatever measures the government comes up with, they don’t trust them because they consistently backfire, as seen in notorious cases of increased apartment prices and rents just two months after the implementation of recent measures. After Moon hastily called in Kim and ordered her to increase supplies, her ministry is considering a lifting of a ban on new apartment construction in the so-called “green zone” of the Seoul metropolitan area. But it takes at least 10 years for applicants to enter their new homes.

Given all the confusion she has triggered so far, Kim must step down immediately. The sooner the better.

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