In his first live town hall since late 2019, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said his biggest regret is failing to fix the nation’s housing shortage.
“I have apologized for the real estate issue several times, but looking back, I think it would have been better if we had put in a little more effort, especially into housing supply,” Moon said, according to Korea JoongAng Daily.
Moon took office in 2017 and ran in part on a platform addressing the nation’s housing crisis.
Home prices and rents have been rising for years. Prices in the capital, Seoul, jumped 58 percent from the beginning of Moon’s presidency through this spring and things are only getting worse.
In the first nine months of 2021, nationwide home prices jumped 12 percent. That’s a more drastic spike than even in 2006, when the nation’s market had been considered the most overheated, according to the Korea Herald.
Moon said it would have been helpful to have begun implementing some real estate policies earlier.
He regretted not being able to provide enough opportunities for “ordinary people, young people and newlyweds to buy their own home,” and said that the shortage and high housing costs bring a “sense of deprivation to the public.”
Last year, the national government launched an ambitious plan to convert empty hotels and office buildings into more than 100,000 residential units over the next two years.
Prior to that, the government eased building height limits and converted some military properties into residential neighborhoods.
In March, a scandal erupted when it became public that at least 10 government officials bought land that the government later said it would develop with housing. The inside information allowed them to buy for much cheaper than they could after the announcement.