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The Peninsula

Housing Relief as a Vehicle for Moon’s Broader Visions

Published May 14, 2019
Author: Yong Kwon
Category: South Korea

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here

What Happened

  • The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transportation (MOLIT) announced plans to build 110,000 new apartments in Gyeonggi Province and areas surrounding Seoul.
  • The government chose 28 sites, including Goyang (38,000 apartments) and Bucheon (20,000 apartments).
  • The government will extend existing subway lines and establish new roads, railway systems, and transfer stations.
  • MOLIT announced plans to incorporate land conservation and various public amenities alongside the construction of housing and infrastructure.

Implications: The new residential areas serve not only to cool property prices in the Seoul Metropolitan region but also to showcase the government’s expanded welfare services. President Moon Jae-in made a much-lauded commitment at the start of his term to build a “nation that takes responsibility for each individual.” His ambitious platform also included renovating the country’s disaster response system and reducing dependence on nuclear energy.

However, two years into his term, Moon faces widespread public perception that he focused too heavily on inter-Korean negotiations at the expense of domestic issues. Highlighting these new amenities in these new exurbs reassures the public that the government is continuing to invest in addressing domestic challenges.

To ensure an eco-friendly environment, urban planners set aside one-third of the land at these commuter towns for parks. With the demand for affordable and safe childcare services on the rise, the government will also build and operate childcare centers in these new commuter towns. For the elderly who live alone, free dementia checkups will be available at their local public health facility.

Context: MOLIT’s plan is the third and final part of its plan to build 300,000 new housing units around in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province. The government announced plans for the first round of housing development (35,000 units) last September and the second (155,000 units) in December. Though the housing market in Seoul has stabilized in the last few months, prices still remain very high and act as a significant financial burden for many people. Additional plans to draw people away from the metropolitan area may be crafted.

Korea View is edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Haram Chung, Yea Ji Nam, Steven Lim, and Haeju Lee.

Picture from Jimmy McIntyre on Wikimedia Commons

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