President Lee Myung-bak decided to transfer the ownership of a housing lot where he will live after retirement from his son to himself immediately, in an apparent bid to resolve suspicions over the land deal, such as Lee’s possible attempt to give property to his child expediently.
Before leaving the country Tuesday for a state visit to the United States, Lee gave Cheong Wa Dae officials instructions to transfer the title to the recently purchased real estate in southeastern Seoul from his son to himself immediately, his spokesman said.
In May, Lee purchased a 2,600-square-meter plot in Naegok-dong, Seocho-gu, in his son’s name, as a site to live after retirement starting in February 2013. His home will be built on 462 square meters of the plot, and the rest will be used for facilities for his bodyguards, Cheong Wa Dae said.
Lee had previously sought to move back into his home in Nonhyun-dong, Gangnam-gu, but changed his mind because of the high price of additional property required for his security service.
Lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party inspect a housing lot in Seoul where President Lee Myung-bak will live after retirement on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)
The price of land in Nonhyun-dong hovers around 35 million won per pyeong, or 3.3 square meters, too expensive for the 4 billion won from state coffers earmarked last year for purchasing land for security service for ex-presidents, a Cheong Wa Dae official said.
Lee will take out bank loans to buy the Naegok-dong property from his son, using his Nonhyun-dong home as collateral, the official said.
“The Nonhyun-dong residence is also considered unfit for security reasons as it is located in a closely packed residential area and surrounded by three to four-story buildings,” he said.
Lee had his son Si-hyung buy the Naegok-dong plot for 1.12 billion won, citing security reasons and possible hike of asking prices in the neighborhood if the land was purchased under Lee’s name. Si-hyung bought the lot with 600 million won in loans from financial institutions and 520 million won borrowed from relatives.
Cheong Wa Dae announced Tuesday morning that the president will get the plot ownership transferred to his name after opposition parties demanded he disclose who the relatives are and the “real reasons” for buying the plot under his 32-year-old son’s name.
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com