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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on July 30)

All News 07:06 July 30, 2021

Unqualified nominee
Owners of multiple homes should not head SH

The Seoul Metropolitan Council has adopted a report stating that a nominee for the head of a city-run housing corporation was unqualified for the position. The report came Wednesday after the council concluded a confirmation hearing on Kim Hyun-ah, CEO nominee for the Seoul Housing & Communities Corp. (SH). During the hearing, she failed to present concrete policy options to supply more public housing and help bring soaring home prices under control.

From the beginning, it was hard to expect a positive report about Kim because she and her husband own two apartments -- one in Seoul and the other in Busan. Her family also possesses a commercial building in Seoul and a studio apartment in Busan. Mayor Oh Se-hoon, a member of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), should not have nominated a figure with more than one home as SH chief.

Oh seemed to have ignored the Moon Jae-in administration's policy of not appointing owners of multiple homes to key posts of the government and public organizations. The policy is intended to prevent ranking civil servants and public workers from profiting from property speculation, although the government has come under attack due to a land speculation scandal involving employees of the state-run Land & Housing Corp. (LH).

Oh should have been more careful in choosing the CEO of SH whose key mission is to increase the supply of more affordable housing and cool the overheated housing market. He was elected mayor of the capital with nearly 10 million residents by winning the April 7 by-election on the ticket of the opposition PPP. Yet he should work closely with the central government to fight against real estate speculation.

Of course, Mayor Oh can have ideas and policy options different from those of the Moon administration and the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK). He is opting for housing policies based on market principles to provide more homes by easing regulations on urban redevelopment and the reconstruction of old apartments.

It is still is wrong for him to nominate Kim as SH CEO. Kim, who served as a lawmaker of the predecessor of the PPP under the proportional representation system, is a noted urban planning expert. However, she has repeatedly criticized President Moon's efforts to stem the rise of housing prices by suppressing demand and imposing heavier property taxes.

While serving as a legislator under former President Park Geun-hye, Kim took flak for opposing public housing projects in Goyang, northwest of Seoul. She also drew criticism for opposing another public housing project near Seoul Station which she claimed was based on "socialism." How can such a person like Kim lead the city-run housing corporation?

On Thursday, Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung called on Mayor Oh to retract Kim's nomination. Lee, one of the leading presidential hopefuls of the DPK, said that appointing Kim as the SH head was like letting the fox guard the henhouse. Oh had better not press ahead with Kim's appointment in the face of the municipal council's opposition and public sentiment against owners of multiple homes.

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