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Land minster nominee vows to stabilize housing prices

All News 17:56 June 15, 2017

SEOUL, June 15 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in's nominee for land and transport minister vowed Thursday she would focus on curbing real estate speculation and stabilizing housing prices for average citizens if appointed.

During her parliamentary confirmation hearing, Kim Hyun-mee also said that home loan regulations should be "tailored" to individuals' financial status and region-specific market conditions.

"I myself experienced housing problems in the past ... I will concentrate the ministry's policy capabilities on tackling housing problems," the nominee said. "(I) will actively push to stabilize housing prices."

Land and Transport Minister-nominee Kim Hyun-mee speaks during a parliamentary confirmation hearing at the National Assembly on June 15, 2017. (Yonhap)

The nominee added that if appointed, she would push to increase rental houses for regular citizens and state housing assistance for young adults and the newly-wed.

The hearing focused largely on her job credentials as there have not been serious ethical disputes involving the ruling Democratic Party lawmaker.

Kim's appointment does not require parliamentary consent, but disapproval could impose a political burden on Moon's nascent government facing an opposition-led parliament.

The hearing drew keen attention as it came ahead of the government's upcoming announcement on new measures to handle the overheating real estate market.

Regarding a potential change in the borrowing regulations, the nominee said that the regulations should not be applied uniformly to all potential home buyers regardless of their specific circumstances.

"Uniformly applying the LTV (loan-to-value) and DTI (debt-to-income) regulations could impose a burden on them," she said.

"Given that the real estate market is overheating in certain regions, policies should be tailored for specific regions and individuals so as to achieve our desired effect," she added.

Kim was referring to the rules that allow home buyers to draw mortgage loans worth up to 70 percent of their property value or 60 percent of their income.

To stimulate the economy, the former government softened regulations in 2014. But the move has been criticized for failing to revitalize the economy and instead sharply increasing household debt.

During the hearing, her alleged thesis plagiarism in 2001 was a point of attack from opposition lawmakers.

"There were no quotations or attributions (in some parts of your thesis)," Rep. Park Duk-hyum of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party said. "You might want to admit to plagiarism and apologize to the people for this."

Kim flatly denied the accusation.

"I made many mistakes when I wrote (an academic paper) for the first time ... but I can't agree to the argument that I had plagiarized it," she said.


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