Sejong housing subscriptions reveal corruption : The DONG-A ILBO

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The Board of Audit and Inspection said that 116 civil servants had obtained housing subscriptions for new apartment complexes in Sejong City. For 11 years from 2010, housing subscriptions had been illegally given out to officials with the Ministry of Education, Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, Korea Land and Housing Corporation, among other central and public institutions. Civil servants had used this opportunity as financial investment.

The Board of Audit and Inspection’s investigations make us wonder whether civil servants have the right ethical values to serve the people. A civil servant with the Geumsan County, South Chungcheong Province forged a document stating that he was affiliated with the Ministry of Interior and Safety during his dispatch with the ministry and copied the minister’s seal. Civil servants nearing retirement had obtained special housing subscriptions and signed contracts.

The Sejong special housing subscription scandal became known to the public when the Customs Valuation & Classification Institute, which was not even on the list to be transferred to Sejong, had invested 17.1 billion won to build a new building in Sejong and had 49 employees obtain housing subscriptions. It was criticized as another public corruption scandal, but only one person was indicted- the employee from Geumsan. The rest got away with simple censure, warning or notice. Those who gave up the subscriptions were excluded from punishment. Despite its commitment to promote fairness, the government simply made do with slap on the wrist in the face of corruption.

The Ministry of Land and Transportation said that it will make additional indictments after determining illegality. However, the ministry itself has been alerted by the Board of Audit and Inspection for issuing the documents confirm‎ing the special housing subscriptions, it is dubious whether it can be relied on to conduct objective and fair measures.

Civil servants took the opportunity to acquire apartments and sell them at a profit, while real estate prices surged, taking away opportunities from buyers with real demand. Some investigations revealed that the profit made by obtaining and selling the apartments exceeded 500 million won on average. This gives a sense of deprivation to the public as they sit helplessly as they have no means to finance homes of which prices have skyrocketed.

Full inspection needs to be carried out on other innovative cities as well around the country. President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Wednesday that he would be directly responsible for looking after issues affecting the livelihoods of the people. Unfairness, which directly impacts livelihood of the people, should not be ignored. Unless this issue is properly addressed, the president will not be able to win any support for future action.


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