Doomed to eternity of rent, Koreans fight property measures
With the average jeonse price in Seoul millimeters from the 500-million mark, people are taking to the streets and claiming the government is forcing them into rent servitude and denying their rightful place as members of the propertied class.
According to KB Kookmin Bank's monthly report on real estate prices Thursday, the average jeonse long-term deposit price for apartments in Seoul was 499.22 million won ($421,500) last month, up 7.7 percent from the same period last year.
In July the average jeonse price in Seoul for 3.3 square meters (35.5 square feet) was 19 million won. This means the jeonse price for an 86.95-square-meter apartment in Seoul is 499.3 million won.
The average jeonse prince in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, increased by 13.7 percent, or 125.3 million won, over the past two years, while in the Songpa District of southern Seoul it was up by 57.6 million won, or 11.1 percent.
In Seocho District, southern Seoul, the average jeonse price rose by 17.3 percent, or 114.2 million won.
The smallest increase was in Dobong District in northern Seoul, where the jeonse price for an 86.95-square-meter apartment increased only 4.4 percent in the two-year period, or by 13.5 million won. In Eunpyeong District in northern Seoul and Guro District in western Seoul, they only rose by around 5 percent.
According to the data, the average jeonse for an 86.95-square-meter apartment in Gangnam District was 849.4 million won. Seocho came in second place, at 775 million won.
In the case of Songpa District, the jeonse price for the same size apartment was 578.4 million won.
Only three Districts — Dobong District of northern Seoul, Geumcheon District of southern Seoul and Nowon District of northern Seoul — out of 25 in Seoul had an average jeonse price for an 86.95-square-meter apartment lower than 350 million won.
With the rise in real estate prices and never-ending real estate measures from the government, protests are spreading like wildfire.
Civic groups gathered in front of the government's administrative office in Gwanghwamun Thursday demanding President Moon remove Land Minister Kim Hyun-mee from her post. Their criticism was strong, calling the real estate measures a failure. They also urged the government stop coming up with more, claiming that the real estate measures have created many innocent victims.
“They are nothing but a political ploy that goes against market principles and are ineffective in helping the lower classes. The government wants to turn everyone into rent migrants so that more people become their core supporters,” said one participant at the event.
Another participant mentioned how torn younger people are to hear the government promote the monthly rent system over living in a jeonse flat and asked if the administration will be “happy to see everyone in the country live as tenants in government-owned rental apartments."
This is not the first such demonstration. Groups of people have been amassing regularly since June 17, when the government announced one of the strictest real estate measures in history.
They have held candlelight vigils, marched on the streets and even thrown slippers at a mock-up President Moon Jae-in's office chair, furious that the government is deaf to their demands.
A total of five such protests — three protests in Guro District and Euljiro, central Seoul, in July, and two in August in Yeouido, western Seoul — were held this year.
Civic groups say more are to come.
Three conservative groups have registered to stage a demonstration in Seoul on Independence Day, which falls on Saturday this year. In response, the Seoul city government announced Thursday an administrative order banning any demonstrations from being held on the national holiday due to coronavirus concerns.
The fight has continued in the online world.
People who oppose to government's real estate measures have been forming online communities with like-minded others. A total of six communities, some with more than 13,000 members, have formed on Naver as of Thursday.
Others are bringing the issue to the Blue House website. A petition criticizing the government’s increase of acquisition tax has received more than 69,000 signatures as of Thursday. Another petition asking President Moon to replace Land Minister Kim received more than 49,000 signatures.
BY LEE JI-YOUNG, KANG JAE-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]