The Korea Herald


DP, govt. decide to abolish housing supply program for civil servants in Sejong

By Yonhap

Published : May 28, 2021 - 10:11

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This photo, taken on May 2, 2021, shows apartment buildings in Seoul. (Yonhap) This photo, taken on May 2, 2021, shows apartment buildings in Seoul. (Yonhap)
The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the government on Friday decided to abolish a controversial housing supply program for public sector employees relocating to the central administrative city of Sejong, calling it an "excessive privilege."

The decision was reached in a policy consultation meeting between the DP, the government and Cheong Wa Dae held at the National Assembly.

The special benefit program has recently been under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that an affiliate of the Korea Customs Service constructed a "ghost" office in Sejong to take advantage of the program intended to provide housing to workers of state bodies that relocated to the administrative city, 120 kilometers south of Seoul.

In the meeting, ruling party and government officials agreed that continuing the program is "perceived as an excessive privilege (for civil servants)," according to DP spokesman Rep. Koh Yong-jin. They also agreed that the program has considerably achieved its purpose of promoting settlement in Sejong.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said the government will present follow-up measures to the decision within June.

The decision came as the government and the ruling party struggles to address and punish speculative activities in the real estate market by public sector workers, amid growing public frustration over skyrocketing housing prices. The party is currently in the process of revising its housing policy.

A recent corruption scandal involving officials at the state housing developer, the Korea Land and Housing Corp. (LH), and the government's failure to curb runaway housing prices have been blamed for the DP's crushing defeat in the April 7 Seoul and Busan mayoral by-elections.   

A group of three allied opposition parties, including the People Power Party, have been stepping up pressure on the ruling bloc to launch an investigation into government employees who illegitimately used the housing program as a means of real estate speculation.

"The controversy surrounding the special supply of apartment units in the city of Sejong has brought huge disappointment to the public," Kim said in his opening remarks before the meeting.

During the meeting, the three parties also delved into the results of last week's summit between President Moon Jae-in and his US counterpart, Joe Biden.

DP Chairman Rep. Song Young-gil hailed the summit results, saying "the alliance between South Korea and the US went beyond a passive, one-sided relationship to grow to one that addresses global climate warming issues, vaccines, security, technology and (shared) values on equal footing."

Party floor leader Rep. Yun Ho-jung called for bipartisan cooperation among opposition parties in efforts to formulate policies to back up the summit results. (Yonhap)