Expanded by the Prime Minister’s Office for a thorough investigation of the ‘3rd new city speculation’… ‘Byeon Chang-heum’ declined to be the subject of investigation by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

Input 2021.03.03 17:34

President Wen instructs the entire investigation and specifies the subject of the investigation,’Prime Minister’s Office’
Expanded to the entire transaction of employees and families of related organizations such as the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and LH
Investigation area, from Gwangmyeong·Siheung to the entire 3rd new city candidate site
Byun Chang-heum Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport from’investigation subject’ to’investigation target’ in one day
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport promotes’prohibition of land transactions’ for officials in charge of new city development

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced the results of its own investigation on the suspicion of land speculation in Gwangmyeong and Siheung new cities by some of the Korea Land and Housing Corporation (LH) employees. On the same day, however, President Moon Jae-in nailed the Prime Minister’s office as the subject of the investigation, and ordered that the investigation target be expanded from LH to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to conduct a thorough investigation of land transactions related to the third new city.

As President Moon expressed it as’relevant public institutions’, the institutions subject to investigation may be extended to Gyeonggi Province and Gyeonggi Housing and Urban Corporation (GH) as well as LH and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has changed its position 180 degrees from the’investigation subject’ to the’investigation target’. In fact, it is also interpreted that the Blue House gave a signal that “you can reap your trust” to Minister Byeon Chang-heum, who was the president of LH at the time of the land speculation incident.

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Byeon Chang-heum (center of the front row) is taking a commemorative photo with participants at the’Ministry of Land and Public Institutions Meeting and Integrity Practice Agreement’ held at the Sejong Government Complex on the 2nd./Yonhap News

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said in a press release on the 3rd, “As a result of self-investigation, 13 LH employees have confirmed that they have acquired 12 parcels in the area, and have completed the position system measures for the relevant employees.” In the case of an investigation, we will respond strictly with a request for an investigation or a complaint or accusation,” he said. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is known to have produced such results by comparing the list of owners on the land register with the list of LH employees.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport revealed that the number of LH employees who acquired the land in the planned Gwangmyeong and Siheung new towns was 13, and that they owned a total of 12 parcels. This is because, in addition to what the civic group revealed the day before, 4 additional parcels were confirmed to be owned by LH employees, and 2 out of the 10 parcels suggested by the civic group were confirmed to be not owned by LH employees. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport added, “It has been confirmed that the employees are not working in the departments related to the new candidate sites and the Gwangmyeong and Siheung business headquarters since 2015.”

However, as President Moon Jae-in ordered a comprehensive investigation into related organizations, such as the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, led by the Prime Minister’s Office, a reaction came out saying that the results of the investigation by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport were useless. While the’Byeon Chang-heum responsibility theory’ came out, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport was faced with a grievance of being the subject of an investigation into the alleged land speculation in the 3rd new city.

In a message delivered by President Moon through the Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok on the same day, “In Gwangmyeong and Siheung, as well as the entire 3rd new town, a total land transaction investigation was conducted on the employees of the departments related to new housing development by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and LH, and their families. Do without it” he instructed. President Moon stressed, “The Prime Minister’s Office will conduct the thorough investigation, but jointly with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport should invest enough manpower to investigate intensively so that no suspicion remains.”

Accordingly, the scope of the survey was expanded to not only Siheung and Gwangmyeong in Gyeonggi Province, but also to the entire six 3rd new city candidates proposed by the current government, including Incheon Gyeyang, Namyangju Wangsuk, Bucheon Captain, Goyang Changneung, and Hanam Gyosan. In addition to LH, the number of organizations to be surveyed has been expanded to include related organizations such as the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and GH, and it was investigated whether employees, public officials, as well as their families have invested in the new city candidates.

The Blue House explained that this is because there is an organization that monitors the performance of officials in the Prime Minister’s office. An official at the Blue House said, “There is a public service management team in the Prime Minister’s Office,” and said, “It is a measure to increase the confidence in the investigation of allegations of speculation by ensuring objectivity and strictness.”

In spite of the Blue House’s explanation, some interpreted that the temperature of the Blue House’s dealings with Minister Byeon Chang-heum and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has changed ahead of the April by-election in political circles and government houses. It is said that in a situation where public opinion is booming, LH employees’ criticism for allegations of land speculation is a burden to take on the political burden and cover it strongly.

In fact, the key officials of the Blue House directly discussed the’Byeon Chang-heum responsibility theory’. The official said, “I know that Minister Byeon’s accountability theory has been raised, but the responsibility theory is the responsibility for the management of (employees),” he said. “Anyway, the supply measures for’Byeon Chang-Humpyo’ should be promoted without a hitch.” He added, “Through this investigation, (Minister Byun) will secure leadership and trust,” he added. “That’s why President Moon gave an order emphasizing a strict investigation.”

The position of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is embarrassing about such a sudden change. This is because Minister Byun, who had received the expectation of a passport as a relief pitcher to solve the twisted real estate problem, was in a position to undergo an investigation into the public service discipline in the Prime Minister’s Office.

In fact, until the day before, Minister Byeon and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport were in a position to rebuke the affiliated public institutions. Minister Byun presided over a meeting with the heads of affiliates the day before, saying, “There are suspicions that LH executives and employees in the Gwangmyeong and Siheung districts made preliminary speculation.” “He said. “Last year, the level of integrity of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and affiliated public institutions was low,” he said. “It is an uncomfortable truth that there are still some behaviors that are not innocent.”

However, as the criticism of the “fluid escape method” has risen fiercely against Minister Byeon’s rebuke, there are also reactions within the Ministry of Land, “There was a problem with Minister Byeon’s response”. This is because it was seen as an irresponsible appearance, as if ‘knowing’ what happened during his tenure as president of LH.

However, some voices from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport say, “It is rather better for the Prime Minister’s office to lead the investigation.” It is said that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport may be criticized for’leaving fish to cats’ while leading the investigation, and it may even bear a burden on the results of the investigation.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced that it will review measures to in principle prohibit land transactions other than the purpose of residence of employees of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and/or local public corporations in order to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents. Specific details, such as the scope of target construction and local public enterprises, and the scope of land transaction restrictions, will be announced in the future after detailed review.

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