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(LEAD) Moon receives emergency report on soaring housing prices from land minister amid public outcry

Politics 19:11 July 02, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline; RESTRUCTURES throughout)

SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in received an emergency briefing Thursday from his land minister in connection with South Korea's heated housing market, Cheong Wa Dae said, amid fierce public criticism over the government's unsuccessful policies to tackle skyrocketing home prices, especially in Seoul and the adjacent cities.

Kim Hyun-mee, minister of land, infrastructure and transport, has been leading the Moon administration's efforts to stabilize the real estate market seen by many as overheated.

Cheong Wa Dae also "strongly advised" its officials with the rank of secretary to sell any additional homes they own and to keep just one.

The presidential chief of staff, Noh Young-min, has already put a house in his hometown Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, up for sale, a Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters on the condition of anonymity. Noh has an apartment in a wealthy neighborhood in southern Seoul as well.

In addition, Moon instructed his aides to push urgently for legislation on imposing more taxes on property owners, mainly those with high-priced or multiple apartments.

Moon's call represents the government's resolve to cool the real estate market, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.

In the undated file photo, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok holds a press briefing. (Yonhap)

Last December, the Moon administration announced a set of tough measures aimed at cooling the real estate market, including the introduction of legislation on jacking up property taxes, which target luxury or multiple house owners largely in the densely populated Seoul capital area.

The bill, however, failed to get approval from the previous parliament amid a protest by the conservative opposition United Future Party.

The government is expected to submit a similar bill again to the current National Assembly, a move to be supported by the ruling Democratic Party with 176 seats in the 300-member chamber.

Apartment prices have continued to surge mainly in Seoul and nearby Gyeonggi Province in spite of the government's tightening of mortgage restrictions and other frequent policy steps. Most recently, the government rolled out a package of further measures on June 17.

Earlier in the day, a poll result showed that Moon's approval rating has dropped 3.9 percentage points from last week to 49.4 percent. It marked the first time in more than three months that his approval has dipped below 50 percent.

Realmeter pointed to major news reports on such issues as continued hikes in housing prices and the Incheon International Airport Corp.'s plan to grant regular employment status to more than 1,902 contract and part-time security officers working at its facilities in line with the liberal-leaning Moon government's campaign to enhance the job security of irregular workers. Many young job seekers regard the airport's plan as unfair and are worried that it could lead to fewer job opportunities for themselves.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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