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Ex-aide Kim Eui-kyeom to sell building, donate profits

Dec 02,2019
Former Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom, who resigned from his post in March amid mounting suspicions that he made a speculative real estate deal in a Seoul redevelopment zone, announced Sunday he would publicly sell the building - and donate any profits to society.

Kim made the statement on his Facebook account, saying he would finish the sale process by Jan. 31 in order to redeem his reputation and stop burdening the Moon Jae-in administration.

Even eight months after leaving the presidential office, Kim said opposition lawmakers and conservative media outlets were still raising his case when denouncing the Moon government’s real estate policy.

Kim’s post on Sunday morning was just the second time he has posted publicly on Facebook since he resigned from the position of Moon’s spokesman on March 29.

The first time was Oct. 30, when he recalled his memories of Moon’s affection toward his mother shortly after she passed away.

Some local media outlets surmised Kim has decided to sell the building because he wants to run in next year’s general election as a ruling Democratic Party candidate for Gunsan, North Jeolla, where he spent his youth.

After graduating from Korea University in central Seoul, Kim became a reporter with the liberal newspaper Hankyoreh, and got appointed as Moon’s spokesman in February 2018.

Kim resigned a day after local media blew up with stories that he bought a two-story building in a popular redevelopment area by taking out huge loans at a time when the government was trying to toughen regulations to curb peaking housing prices and tackle overheated real estate speculation.

Kim adamantly denied the accusations - and blamed his wife for singing the deal without his knowledge.

Early this year when a government agency revealed the assets of senior public servants, including Blue House officials, Kim was shown to have purchased a two-story building in Heukseok-dong of Dongjak District, southern Seoul, for 2.57 billion won ($2.2 million) in July of last year, just weeks before the government announced strong anti-speculation measures that applied to that neighborhood.

To purchase the building, Kim borrowed over 1.02 billion won from KB Kookmin Bank.

He borrowed another 360 million won from individuals. In total, he took out over 1.6 billion won in loans to purchase the building.

Kim denied his investment was real estate speculation and said one of his relatives was a realtor in Heukseok-dong and recommended the purchase, denying suspicions that he used information obtained as the presidential spokesman.

“I’ve chosen to sell the building because I do not want to be a stumbling block for the government’s [real estate] policy,” Kim wrote on his Facebook Sunday.

Kim also said he was “shameful” to have blamed his wife in March, saying he thought it was okay to express his lament that way.

“It’s so pathetic and bitter that I’m being recognized as a real estate speculator when I’ve lived on jeonse [long-term deposit] my entire life,” he wrote.

“I can’t undo what’s already been done. But please don’t see me only as a greedy person.”

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]