Moon Jae-in’s government allegedly manipulated real estate statistics

An exclusive article in the Chosun Ilbo (reporter Kim Kyung-pil, link to original article at the end of the post) is raising suspicions about the manipulation of real estate statistics. Our real estate market is closely linked to the economy, and fluctuations in real estate prices directly affect people’s lives. One important indicator of how the real estate market is doing is the real estate statistics released by the government. However, recent allegations of manipulation of national statistics during the Moon Jae-in administration by the National Audit Office raise fundamental questions about the reliability of these statistics. In this article, we’ll provide an overview and background of the case and its implications.

  • I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a supporter of the current government, I’m just a writer who cares about views, and I don’t represent any political party.
a close up of a typewriter with the word truth on it

Start manipulating property stats

In early July 2019, during the Moon Jae-in administration, an employee of the Housing Statistics Department at the Korea Real Estate Agency emailed a statistical report on apartment price changes to the Blue House and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport. According to the report, apartment prices in Seoul rose 0.02% from the previous week. However, in the body of the email, Mr. A stated that the real market situation appears to be more than 0.1%, which is five times the statistical rate of increase. This is evidence that the employees of the real estate agency were creating false statistics due to pressure from the Blue House and MOLIT.

As a result of the auditor’s investigation, Jang Ha-sung, then head of the Cheong Wa Dae policy office, demanded an interim compilation of weekly apartment price trends from the real estate agency. In response to the demands of the Blue House and MOLIT, the real estate agency manipulated the growth rate of apartment prices to be lower than it actually was. Even in the process of compiling the survey results and calculating apartment price appreciation, real estate agents had to manipulate the appreciation rate to arbitrarily lower it.

What were the real stats?

In an effort to accurately communicate the true state of the market, the agents, including Mr. A, wrote something different in the body of the email than the false statistics. This suggests that it was more than just a problem within the real estate agency, but that even high-ranking officials involved in the government’s real estate policy at the time were aware of the manipulated statistics. Despite this, no one moved to stop it.

This incident raises fundamental questions about the reliability of statistics published by the state. Statistics are used as the basis for important national decision-making, so their accuracy and reliability are critical. However, if statistics are manipulated for political purposes or other external pressures, this can have serious implications for the public’s right to know, as well as the effectiveness of national policies.

Conclusion

The alleged manipulation of real estate statistics is more than just fudging numbers, it’s an important test of a country’s credibility and transparency. To prevent such incidents from happening again, there is an urgent need to put in place institutional arrangements to ensure the independence and objectivity of national statistics. Perhaps one of the most important challenges in a democratic society is to create a system where people can make informed judgments based on transparent and accurate information, and where the state respects and reflects those judgments.

Link to original Chosun Ilbo article

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