Endless self-contradictionsRuling Democratic Party (DP) Rep. Park Ju-min, who sponsored the bill capping rent raises at 5 percent for a two-year residential lease contract, was found to have hiked the monthly rent for his own tenant in Seoul by 9 percent just before the new law was passed. The revelation came after former presidential policy chief Kim Sang-jo resigned over raising the jeonse deposit on an apartment he leases out by 14 percent just two days before the new law went into effect. President Moon Jae-in’s aides have added to the rage of a public already fuming over a scandal over Korea Land and Housing Corp. employees buying land in areas due to be redeveloped using inside information.
The tenant protection law motioned by Park in June 2020 passed the legislature the following day and immediately went into effect. On July 3, he signed a lease for his apartment in central Seoul for a deposit of 100 million won ($88,000) and monthly rent of 1.85 million. He formerly leased the apartment for 1 million won per month on a deposit of 300 million won. When reflecting the existing 4 percent conversion rate of a long-term lease to monthly payments, the rent fee has risen 9.17 percent. If you use the revised 2.5 percent conversion rate that took effect from last September, the rent jumped 26.6 percent.
While pitching his bill, Park said the new law aimed to ease housing costs for people who don’t own homes. A day before its passage, he told a legislative committee reviewing the bill that some could attempt to raise monthly rents before the new law took effect. His words and actions contradict. It makes one wonder if he is the same person.
He apologized and blamed his realtor. He argued his rent was about 200,000 won cheaper than the market rate. But real estate sites showed it was average at the time.
People who no longer can afford housing due to the repeated failures in real estate policy are confounded by the hypocritical actions by senior officials, Kim Jo-won, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, withdrew his apartment offering after putting it up at a price higher than the market average and chose to resign instead of selling an extra home as required by the president. But people did not expect hypocrisy to run so deeply. Moon’s policy chief Kim feigned frugality and always carrying a worn-out briefcase. Rep. Park who volunteered to defend families of the Sewol ferry disaster, also joined the hypocrites club. Kim resigned, but how will Park account for his folly?