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South Korean PM ‘declares war on property crime’ amid growing insider speculation scandal at government’s state-owned housing corp

South Korean PM ‘declares war on property crime’ amid growing insider speculation scandal at government’s state-owned housing corp
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun declared a “war on property crime” on Thursday amid a growing investigation into insider speculation by government employees at the country’s state-owned housing corporation.

The comments from the South Korean leader come after an initial investigation of 20 staff at the Korea Land and Housing Corp (LH) was expanded to at least 74 employees who are suspected of using classified knowledge to purchase land before government development projects were announced, in a process known as speculation.

Chung declared that the “government will never forgive the crimes of the public corporation,” pledging to hold accountable any and all “public servants who filled their pockets by exploiting the people’s dreams and hope.”

The government hereby declares war on property crime.

The area under investigation is 1,000 square meters of farmland in two cities that were bought by LH staff for 10 billion won ($8.88 million) before becoming the site of sizeable government housing development projects.

Alongside the government’s investigation, a parliamentary committee has been established by the country’s opposition political group, the People Power Party, to examine the allegations, expanding the probe to cover the Transport Ministry.

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While not named as one of the employees accused of wrongdoing, Byron Chang-heum, who served as head of the LH from April 2019 until December 2020, has apologized for the scandal which occurred under his watch.

Chung’s government has pledged to fully cooperate with any political or criminal investigation into the allegations and Chang has agreed to work with investigators if needed to hold any criminals accountable for their behavior.

The response from the South Korean prime minister comes a month before by-elections are due to be held in Seoul and Busan, deciding which party will control the mayoralty in the two cities.

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