real estate and women's associations
|I think I could have spent eight hours a day for the last month reading news and commentary and making blog notes on the situation of the real estate markets in Korea nowadays, but I do have other more pressing concerns (as the scarcity of posts of late may indicate). Not being able to make any coherent real estate policy to curtail the wildly rising prices and speculation has hurt the present government a lot, and it was not long ago that the government party was surveyed as being the least on the side of the "middle class (chungsanch'ûng) and the ordinary people (sômin)" behind the Democratic Labor Party and the Grand National Party.|
So as I'm not getting paid for providing analysis about the Korea real estate markets, I'll take one interesting characteristic of the real estate (read: "apartment house") markets, namely that of women's central role in it. Those familiar with how Korean families manage their money are aware that it's most likely the woman of the family who's in charge of the daily details and information gathering, often contributing considerably to the family wealth.
A while ago Ohmynews in its newly launched economy pages wrote about the role of the apartment block women's association (punyôhoe, ("wives' association") in actually administering the apartment prices, which has been pointed out as one factor for the heated markets. (One article about the situation in Sinbong-dong in Yongin, Gyeonggi, how the situation in Pan'gyo is affecting the rest of the Gyeonggi south of Seoul; another piece on real estate agencies closing doors in order to cool down the heated markets, in which prices are constantly rising but transactions not done. One article quotes a realtor who's been in the business for two years after 28 years as a company man (typical for retirees):
"Apartment women's associations make agreements not to sell under certain prices, so how could the prices fall? Whenever aunties gather the talk is about where the apartment prospects are good. When the whole nations is taking part in the speculation it's very difficult to get the housing prices under control."
And about the activities of the women's association; the women's association obstructing deals which were going to be made for a price under what the association wishes for:
서울 성동구 성수동 A 공인 관계자는 "노후 아파트인 동아, 장미 아파트 집주인들이 주변 4~5곳 중개업소에 매물을 내놓고 각 중개업소가 부르는 가격을 저울질 하면서 호가를 높이고 있다"며 "집주인들간의 가격 담합을 위한 모임도 수차례 열리고 있다"고 전했다.(Also two other older pieces from 2003 in Chosun Ilbo: "Apartment prices? Ask the women's association" "Apartment block associations adjusting prices".)
This is not the only issue in which women have been pointed out as culprits behind excessive consumption in Korea. I wouldn't dare to argue that this kind of financial management was not part of the problem, but it needs to be said that from their point of view they are doing their best for their part in the economy of their household. Their mostly wage-earning or professional husbands who don't have money going through their hands do not get tainted with accusations of contributing to the real estate bubble. (Women's "household money" often seems to be in this regard morally suspect, while men's money used commonally gets the clout of common good. Or something...)
Categories at del.icio.us/hunjang: housing ∙ women-men ∙ consumption ∙ money