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South Korea's ruling party lawmakers ordered to resign over real estate transactions

South Korea’s lawmakers were buying and selling real estate on terms that run afoul of the law, according to a local watchdog this week. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
South Korea’s lawmakers were buying and selling real estate on terms that run afoul of the law, according to a local watchdog this week. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

June 8 (UPI) -- Twelve South Korean lawmakers have been asked to leave the ruling Democratic Party, including a former activist for "comfort women," after a local watchdog said the politicians are suspected of conducting illegal real estate transactions.

Lawmaker Yoon Mi-hyang, the former president of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, is suspected of registering a house under third party's name, News 1 reported.

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Yoon claimed on Facebook Tuesday that the party requires all members to own no more than one unit of residential real estate per household. The house in Hamyang, in South Gyeongsang Province, was purchased in June 2017 and registered in her husband's name, Yoon said.

Yoon alleged the house was subsequently "gifted" or given to her mother-in-law because of the one-house policy that began to be enforced in 2020. Registering her household property under her mother-in-law is the focus of investigations, Yoon said, according to MoneyToday.

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It is unclear whether Democratic Party lawmakers must abide by a different set of guidelines in real estate transactions. Registering property under a third party has often been cited as a way of avoiding the heavier taxes that come with owning multiple homes, according to local media.

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Other South Korean politicians claimed they are being unfairly framed for the sake of the party's rebranding after a government land speculation scandal rocked the country earlier this year.

"I understand why these measures are taking place," said Woo Sang-ho, a prominent Democratic Party lawmaker. "But it is not right to victimize lawmakers at the cost of renewing the image of the party."

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Woo is suspected of registering land as farmland, then using it for other purposes.

On Monday, ahead of the demand for mass resignations, South Korea's Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission said it identified 16 cases of land or real estate transactions, linked to the 12 individuals, that ran afoul of the law, Yonhap reported.

A police-led team of investigators is to look into each case, according to the report.

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Home prices have risen as much as 58% during the presidency of Moon Jae-in.

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