PSPD English Newsletter, November 2021
- 2021.11.30 (12:02:21)
This Month of PSPD
People are raging over how private businesspeople collected development profit that amounts to several hundred billion won in the Daejang-dong, Pangyo, Seongnam city development project. The Daejang-dong development project is now throwing a big question to the Korean society on how to secure the public concern of city development projects as well as how to retrieve the profit from the development according to the public purpose.
On October 7th, PSPD and Minbyun Committee for Economy for People’s Livelihood announced the analysis results of how Hwacheon Daeyu Asset Management Inc. (‘Hawcheon Daeyu’ hereinafter) collected development profits in Daejang-dong while not being applied to the upper limit of price regulations. In December 2018, Hwacheon Daeyu sold apartments in four sectors of Daejang-dong through a recruitment ad of tenants, which amounted to 1.389 trillion won. If the upper limit of price regulations were to be applied, Hwacheon Daeyu would have been barred from taking additional 104.7 billion won for development profit. The reason why the apartment of Daejang-dong could escape the upper limit regulations was that while the distribution happened in 2018, the regulations were abolished in 2015 for residential areas during the Park administration which only reappeared in 2019.
Even in the Moon administration, the limits are only placed in certain areas of Seoul and Gyeonggi province, leaving Daejang-dong out from the regulations. The regulations should be applied regardless of the region or category for people without a house to be able to get one and stabilize the residential prices. Moreover, if the land is obtained through expropriation, then the development should be done in a public manner so that public land expropriated for the benefit of the people would not result in private development benefits. A bigger problem is that in the new city of the third stage, which projects the current government is pursuing, more than half of the residential land has been sold to private construction enterprises, with which they will sell at high prices (according to the announcement from the Ministry of Transport). There is a very high chance what happened in Daejang-dong will be repeated.
The current Special Act on Private Rental Housing states how 40% of houses built on public lands should be built by privately distributed apartments. Considering how in the new cities such as Gaeyang of Incheon, Wangsuk of Namyang-Ju, and Kyosan of Hanam, over half are sold through private routes, and assuming the new cities of Changreung of Goyang, and Daejang of Bucheon in which the plans have not been finalized yet, will also be sold at least 40% in the same manner, 43% of all residential housing in all five new cities of third stages (a minimum of 75 thousand houses from 174 thousand) will be supplied as privately sold apartments. Profits are estimated to be around 8 trillion won, which is 20 times more than the amount private enterprises received in Daejang-dong.
After the incident was exposed, both the ruling party and the opposition parties are arguing that the development profits should be firmly returned, but their actions are silent for enhancing the law and regulations for the purpose. Civic groups for residential rights as well as PSPD already proposed a bill that states public land should not be sold to private enterprises, but as a principle work to be supplied for public housing. The National Assembly should institutionalize this idea as soon as possible while establishing land banking to steadily obtain public lands and use them in the original purposes of public land development projects.
Defense Industry Exhibition, ADEX 2021… “Stop Selling War”
<Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Industry Exhibition (‘ADEX’)> is a biannual weapon exhibition that is the largest in Korea and also a considerable size in Asia. Interested parties of administrations that repress their people using army and police, and from countries that frequently commit war crimes are invited as VIPs, and war corporations are keen to attend to them as they want to sell out their newest weapons. While weapons that are on the edge of development are packaged to seem like they would protect our safety and peace, we should remember how the wealth from the defense industry is accumulated upon people’s pain and death from those weapons.
Korea is the ninth in line for exporting weapons. Last September, President Moon Jae-In urged the international society to cooperate in the ‘declaration of the end of the war on the Korean peninsula’ in the UN General Assembly. The Korean administration is being hypocritical, asking for an end to the war to the world, while it is earning money by selling weapons to its neighbors. The Moon administration, in particular, enlarged the defense budget and promoted defense industries more than its predecessors. Weapons export in 2015-2020 increased by 210% compared to the five years before, which is a rate fastest from the top twenty weapon exporting countries.
However, weapons cannot prevent wars, nor can they protect the peace. A display of the newest weapons and fabulous air-shows are blocking us from examining where these weapons are pointing at, who are killed, and whether they threaten the safety of democracy and humanity's safety. ADEX resistance movement participants conducted a surprise demonstration as well as performances under phrases such as “Stop selling wars” and “K-defense industry, Do not export homicide” to publicize the immorality of arms trade and urge for an end of ADEX, a market of death.
We closely examined whether the restrictions on employment after retirement are managed properly.
High officials are guaranteed their degrees until their retirement age after being selected through examinations. However, hardly anyone monitors them. PSPD focused on the status of high officials’ employment restrictions after their retirements and exposed the problems, timing the inspection season of state administration.
According to the analysis of re-employment evaluation results of high officials from Korea Electric Power Corporation, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, KEPCO E&C, only 13.6%, 11 out of 81 cases were determined to be closely connected with the job before the retirement and thus barred from being employed. Moreover, 3 out of 10 of those who were permitted to be employed again sought positions in the same company of the group or a company they reinvested in. A tendency for a formation of a ‘Job market’ was found between the Korea Electric Power Corporation and their subsidiary companies, and the retirees found new jobs as if the companies worked in turn for one another.
As for the Bank of Korea, there were 27 cases of the retiree who applied for an examination for employment, but 100% of the examination candidates, regardless of the fact that some went through re-examination, passed the process. Adding on to that, there was also a tendency for them to repeatedly seek a position in a certain financial corporation or a finance-related organization. Certain positions of five places, KB Life Insurance, KEB Hana Card, Korea Center for International Finance, Korea Federation of Banks, and Korea Money Brokerage, were filled by retired people from the Bank of Korea as if those positions were reserved especially for them.
PSPD will continue to monitor cases of rounding the restrictions on employment for officials so that the employment ascertaining system and approval system for employment of the Public Service Ethics Act will be strictly operated.
The Project That Gave Away Face Photographs From the Immigration Process Should Be Stopped
A shocking fact of how the government has been providing 170 million faces from the immigration process has been revealed. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Science and Technology entered into an MOU in 2019 and pursued a project titled ‘Artificial Intelligence Identification and Tracking’, in order to advance the borders customs by 2022. For this purpose, faces, nationality, gender, age, and other information of around 170 million people in and out of Korea collected in the immigration process were passed on to a private corporation. 120 million cases were of people from abroad, among which 100 million were used to educate the AI and 20 million others were used to check the algorithm. Faces of Korean citizens were also used for machine learning of AI.
This case is especially alarming as the government organizations illegally passed biometrics to private corporations, under the name of AI technology development. This is a grave accident, how the system using biometrics was unreadily adopted without the prediction of how basic rights could be violated or preventions for these concerns, but by only focusing on the development of the AI industry. The related projects should be immediately put to a stop and legal responsibilities should be asked for illegally collecting information.
Faces, being biometric information, is one category with complex restrictions to the process. Since the collection of face recognition and real-time remote monitoring systems using this can greatly violate basic human rights, the technology is perceived as a very dangerous one and put into strict usage limits. However, going against these global standards, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Science and Technology announced how this is a project that underwent legal inspection through a clarification
While the clarification said the collection of biometric data is unavoidable to perform jobs of the Ministry of Justice, such as identification of people entering the country, outsourcing the data to be processed as a material for developing AI identification system is outside the purpose of border customs and cannot be seen as ‘unavoidable’. Thus, PSPD refuted the clarification of the Ministry and asked for a stop of the project. We will continue to work by asking for information and taking legal actions with the organizations in solidarity.
The Minister of Justice Should Exercise the Right to Demand the Dismissal of Lee Jae-Yong, According to the Act On The Aggravated Punishment Of Specific Economic Crimes!
Vice-chairman Lee Jae-Yong violated the Act On The Aggravated Punishment, Etc. Of Specific Economic Crimes by embezzling 86.8 million won of the corporate budget of Samsung Electronics and was convicted guilty this January, but was granted parole last August. He was immediately employed in Samsung Electronics and has been performing the related business affairs. In eleven days after the parole, he personally presented a large-scale strategy of investment, held meetings by business sections, and is planning on a business trip to the U.S. to decide on a factory site within the U.S. He stepped up to the forefront of the business leading Samsung Electronics, the victim of the crime, as soon as he was released from prison.
This violates the employment restrictions of the Act On The Aggravated Punishment Of Specific Economic Crimes that specify how one cannot be employed by any places having a close relationship with the convicted offense. The restriction works to restrict the convict who violated economic ethics in a way other than the criminal punishments, as well as protect the related enterprise so that they won’t have to be influenced.
Soon after we sued Vice President Lee for violation of employment restrictions of the Act on Specific Economic Crimes last September, PSPD also asked the Ministry of Justice to exercise their right to demand his dismissal as an executive. Minister Park Beom-kye argued how participating in business as an unpaid, temporary, unregistered executive is not a violation of restrictions, and was criticized for this argument. Since the demand for dismissal is regulated as an obligation of the Minister of Justice, once any person violates the provisions, the Minister would be neglecting his duties if he does not exercise the right. Thus, we urge the Minister to use the right to demand a dismissal.
We Inspected the Situation After Ten Years of Enactment of the Protection of Public Interest Reporters Act
It has been twenty and ten years respectively since the basic laws to protect whistle-blowers were enacted: The Act On The Establishment And Management Of The Anti-corruption And Civil Rights Commission and Protection Of Public Interest Reporters Act. PSPD Center for Whistle-blower Support checked the protection system management status of whistle-blowers. The results show while the legal mechanisms have been strengthened in the last ten years, actual protection on reporters of public interest and corruption has not been properly done.
The citation rates regarding protective measures for whistleblowers of violated public interest and corruption were 47.5% and 32.9%, respectively. In short, only 5 out of 10 whistleblowers of violated public interest, and 3 out of 10 whistleblowers of corrupt public officials have received protection. Investigations into instances of leaked social statuses revealed that despite the reporting processing agency having managed 50% of the cases, consequential disciplinary actions either were light—such as formal warnings—or were nonexistent. Repeated damages on part of the whistleblowers are linked to delayed and passive administrative action by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission. The four months spent in wait for the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission’s decision on necessary protective (identity guarantee) measures for whistleblowers had exposed the latter to extended periods of disadvantages. Furthermore, out of 31 cases of administrative non-compliance with decreed protection measures, only 5 received economic charges compelling its execution. The general protection system for whistleblowers has been strengthened over the past decade, but the corresponding protection and support systems have been poorly operated. The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission's active administrative measures are imperative.
Translated by Hyewon Yoon (Volunteer of PSPD)