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S. Korea mulls opening up greenbelt zones in Seoul area to supply homes

All News 18:33 July 15, 2020

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is considering opening up greenbelt zones in the Seoul metropolitan area to make more land available for housing as part of efforts to help resolve the country's housing supply shortage in the densely populated area, the transport ministry said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said it has formed a task force with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the Seoul city, Gyeonggi and Incheon regional governments to discuss ways to supply more homes in the capital city and adjacent areas.

In less than a week, the government has changed its stance toward easing the construction ban in the development restriction areas designated by the country to resolve housing shortage problems.

In this photo, taken on July 15, 2020, Land Minister Kim Hyun-mee speaks at a meeting with lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party in charge of transportation policies at a National Assembly building in western Seoul.

On Friday, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki ruled out the possibility of lifting the restriction on the greenbelt zones to supply more homes in the greater Seoul area.

But the minister said in an interview with local broadcaster MBC on Tuesday that the government is "reviewing several options to supply more homes and is open to the possibility of lifting the bans on the greenbelt zones following the review, if necessary."

Development restriction areas in the Seoul metropolitan area reach about 150 square kilometers, or 25 percent of the capital city's area.

The Seoul metropolitan government has opposed the idea of developing the greenbelt areas, to protect the environment and avoid excessive expansion of the city area.

The government has announced a series of measures to cool housing prices in Seoul and its neighboring areas, but it has failed to stabilize the property market.

Record-low interest rates and excess liquidity, which has been pumped into the markets to help revive the virus-hit economy, have contributed to soaring home prices, analysts said.

Last week, the country came up with a plan that focuses on imposing heavier tax on multiple-property owners.

The median price of Seoul apartments jumped 52 percent from 606 million won (US$505,000) to 920 million won during the three years of the Moon Jae-in government, despite the past housing measures, according to property data from KB Kookmin Bank.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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