President Moon Jae-in speaks before a luncheon meeting with floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. (Cheong Wa Dae)
President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday denounced the alleged speculative purchases of land by officials of the state-run housing developer, calling the snowballing insider trading scandal “unacceptable.”
“It is unacceptable that officials at public organizations or public servants make speculative land purchases based on related information. This is an act of undermining our society’s integrity and trust,” Moon said before a luncheon meeting with floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea at Cheong Wa Dae.
Since the massive land speculation scandal involving officials at the Korea Land and Housing Corp. broke last week, the president has called for a thorough investigation and preventive measures in a total of five announcements through his spokesperson, but this is the first time he has mentioned the issue publicly in person.
Moon stressed that the scandal could be an opportunity to move toward a more transparent society if related investigations are carried out thoroughly enough to eradicate the sources of corruption.
“A systemic approach is needed to address the issue fundamentally like the Kim Young-ran law did to fight corruption,” he added, referring to the 2016 anti-graft law that bans public servants, educators and journalists from receiving free meals valued at over 30,000 won ($26) and gifts exceeding 50,000 won.
He also reiterated the government’s intention to push ahead with its plan to provide more than 830,000 additional residential units, mainly in Seoul and areas nearby for the coming years, citing the urgent need to stabilize the housing market and better protect people’s housing rights.
Amid the ongoing investigation, which is expanding to encompass almost all of officialdom, there are growing calls for the LH-led development project to be cancelled to prevent unfair profits from speculative transactions.
All employees of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, LH, the Land Ministry and other relevant government institutions, including the presidential office, are subjects of the investigation whose tentative results are expected to come out within the week.
The Land Ministry has suspended 13 LH officials believed to be involved in murky land transactions and said it will seek to ban land ownership transactions by public officials involving land development projects for investment, not residential, purposes.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)