South Korea's super rich, who make up the top 1 percent of the population, own on average 6.5 homes, while half of the people don't own their own houses, government data showed Sunday.
The findings submitted by the tax office and ministry of interior to ruling Democratic Party lawmaker Park Kwang-on showed the number of homes the rich owned jumped twofold in the past nine years.
"The richest 139,000 people owned 906,000 homes last year," the official numbers showed. The total value of these homes reached 182.3 trillion won (US$161.2 billion).
In 2007, the top 1 percent, or 115,000 people, owned 370,000 homes, equal to an average of 3.2 homes.
The latest data also showed that the top 10 percent of the country's affluent, totaling over 1.38 million people, owned 4.5 million homes, for an average of 3.2 houses per person.
In contrast, as of Nov. 1, 2015, 44 percent, or 8.41 million households, did not own a home, a sign of the distortion in the market and inequality.
Rep. Park said the increase in home ownership comes as low interest rates have made holding onto financial assets less profitable, which has caused more people to buy homes that have been going up in prices. Such acquisitions can lead to "easy" profit if home prices go up although this development makes home ownership more difficult for the less wealthy.
He added that the past government's efforts to stimulate the economy through the construction sector has further fueled this trend.
"There is a need to address the inequality in terms of earnings and measures that need to be taken for appropriate taxation to counter growing polarization between the haves and have-nots," the liberal lawmaker said. (Yonhap)
Kim Su-a firstname.lastname@example.org
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