Former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, a presidential candidate from the ruling Democratic Party (DP), made a bombshell promise to supply 30,000 units of apartments on the site of Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi after moving the airport to another location. Lee, who also served as chairman of the DP, said a so-called smart city of about 100,000 residents could effectively connect Gangnam, Songpa and Pangyo with residential zones in Wirye New Town and the old downtown in Seongnam.
We are deeply concerned about his idea. It’s the equivalent of burning down the house to kill fleas. If he had taken into account the significance of the military airport, he would not have made such a preposterous pledge.
According to military experts, Seoul Air Base is the northernmost military airport in South Korea. The takeoff and landing of Air Force One, a presidential airplane, is just a small part of the airport’s reason for being, which includes the operation of reconnaissance aircraft on North Korea in peacetime and the shipment of military supplies and reinforcements from U.S. forces in wartime. The air base also serves as a starting point from which our special forces would be dispatched to key locations in North Korea at times of crisis.
Lee vowed to relocate a U.S. Air Force squadron stationed there to an air base in Osan or Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi while transferring other roles of the airport to Kimpo International Airport. Yet military experts’ worries are endless due to a lack of effective replacements in terms of military purposes.
Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung, frontrunner among DP candidates, is no better. He promised to supply a whopping 2.5 million apartments, including what he calls “basic housing,” within his term if elected. But no one believes that’s possible. Former President Roh Tae-woo could not keep a campaign promise to build 2 million apartments even when there was land available.
A year ago today, the Moon jae-in administration hurriedly vowed to supply 130,000 units of apartment to help control soaring real estate prices. But that promise is turning into a pipe dream. The government’s promise to build apartments on the sites of the Taeneung golf course and the government complex in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi can hardly be put into action in the face of strong opposition from residents. Its plan to supply more public apartments for rent also is going nowhere. DP candidates’ unrealistic promises cannot be realized. They should ease stifling regulations on the housing market and scrap anti-market real estate policies favored by liberal administrations. That might actually work.