March 22, 2019 11:44
Disgraced former President Chun Doo-hwan's house in northwestern Seoul was auctioned off on Thursday to help pay the fines he owes for corruption.
Chun was fined by the Supreme Court back in 1997 for corruption during his dictatorship in the 1980s but has so far paid only W105.5 billion. The government has until 2020 to retrieve the money.
But Chun had squirreled the assets away somewhere and claimed to be broke, so the house was eventually seized in 2013. When it was finally put up for auction this February, it initially found no buyers.
The Korea Asset Management Corporation said a sixth attempt at auctioning off the property online this week succeeded, and the house went to an unidentified buyer who offered W5.13 billion. It had been appraised at W10.2 billion.
The property measures 1,642.6 sq.m and contains two separate homes. It was held in the names of Chun's wife Lee Soon-ja, her daughter-in-law and Chun's former secretary in an attempt to keep it out of the hands of the law.
But several hurdles remain before the new owner can take possession. Lee filed a lawsuit last month seeking to nullify the auction, claiming it is not among Chun's assets and therefore not subject to the forfeiture order. Even if Lee loses, the new buyer may have to sue the couple to get them to vacate the property.
Jang Keun-seok at GG Auction, which specializes in court-administered property sales, said, "It usually takes more than a year for such lawsuits to be resolved, and it will be difficult to evict Chun since he claims to be suffering from dementia."
Chun (88) is on trial for defamation in Gwangju in connection with his brutal suppression of the 1980 democratic uprising there, and seems to have trouble following the proceedings.
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