Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki made an official apology on Sunday over the allegations that several employees at the Korea Land and Housing Corporation, or LH, made speculative land purchases using classified information in areas now part of a development project just outside of Seoul.
After presiding over an unscheduled meeting with ministers related to the real estate market, the finance minister issued a sincere apology to the public, saying he feels responsible.
"As a minister in charge of managing the economy and public institutions, I would like to express my deepest apologies to the public."
He also said that a probe is underway, and vowed to take stern action against the employees if the accusations of land speculation are found to be true.
"If speculation is confirmed to have occurred, it will be met with zero tolerance. We will launch an investigation, take formal disciplinary action and more."
A joint government probe was launched on Thursday soon after complaints were filed accusing former and current employees at LH of buying lands in Gwangmyeong and Siheung before the government included the two cities in Gyeonggi-do Province in its latest development projects.
Over the three years from 2018 to 2020, the employees are accused of buying 23-thousand square meters of property in the two areas for around nine million U.S. dollars.
Minister Hong pledged to prevent such incidents from happening again and urged the public to have faith in the government's housing plans.
The government will be discussing further details of countermeasures against illicit investment in a ministerial meeting this Wednesday.
Min Suk-hyen, Arirang News.