On April 7, by-elections were held in Seoul and Busan to select new city mayors. Twelve candidates competed for the post of Seoul mayor, which had been vacant for about nine months since the death of former Seoul Mayor, Park Wonsoon. During the campaigning, each party candidate made various pledges in the hope of winning. Among them, Park Youngsun and Oh Sehoon were the most active, especially in making housing and residency policy promises. That was crucial to the outcome as Seoulites are suffering from soaring housing prices and are angry about the recent LH issue. Oh Sehoon, who got 57.5% (2,798,788 votes) of the vote discussed the need for more housing and vowed to revamp regulations on urban planning in Seoul in order to boost the housing supply. He said he would ease regulations on floor space rates in Seoul and abolish regulations on 35th floors and lower on apartments along the Han River. On the other hand, Park Youngsun, who got 39.18% (1,907,336 votes) of the vote, emphasized metropolitan convenience and speed and promised to promote balanced development between Gangnam and Gangbuk. Her "21-minute city" was aimed at converting Seoul into 21 distinct areas so that everything could be reached within 21 minutes, home, work, recreation, medical care, and education.
Last year, three real estate laws that stipulated measures to stabilize the housing market, to improve the rental system, and to expand housing were passed. However, after the laws, many citizens became concerned about rising real estate prices, and then the public got even more upset when the LH issue came to light in March. Oh has now said he will reconsider abolishment of the 35th rule. He cannot carry out all his real estate-related pledges at the same time, for there would be numerous side effects that could bump up housing prices even more. Both prior to and after his inauguration, there were expectations in the market of deregulation in reconstruction and redevelopment, and transaction prices were also hitting new records. Oh has pledged to reduce the property tax of single-homeowners without income, but this pledge, too, needs to be reexamined to determine if it is possible in reality. Seoul's real estate falls under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, so it will be difficult for Seoul Metropolitan Government and Mayor Oh Sehoon to proceed without the Ministry's involvement. On April 16, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said it could not tolerate instability in the real estate market and that it would immediately review the designation of land transaction permit zones as a precautionary measure to stabilize prices. The Government also said it would present measures to prevent disruptions in the real estate market. As this shows, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is looking towards resolving the real estate problems and fulfilling Oh's campaign promises. Seoulites are expecting various and cautious policies that enable them to possess a house of their own.
1) Kim Heejun, "Core Real Estate Policies of Seoul Mayor…Park Youngsun and Oh Sehoon; Supply and Regulation", news1, March 25, 2021