South Korea Land and Property

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From as early as 50 BC (the Three Kingdom period), payment of land tax has been one of the basic duties Korean citizens have had to perform, along with military service and service for public works. The ownership of land was traditionally considered to be in the hands of the royal dynasty and the king, and the land tax was an in-kind charge for the right to cultivate assigned farmlands. Although the structures and the implementation schemes differed substantially from dynasty to dynasty, and even during different periods of the same dynasty, a similar principle more or less persisted until the end of the l9th century.

With the opening of the 20th century, modern techniques of land resource management were eventually introduced to Korea by the Japanese colonial government (from its own motives of pillage); these include a cadastral survey of the entire country, land-value taxation, and a land use planning system. In the course of the first national cadastral survey (1910-1918), the primitive, loosely organized land ownership pattern that had prevailed previously virtually disintegrated, and a clearer land title concept was enforced, with corresponding tax liability. In this modern concept of real-estate as introduced to Korea, the land and its improvements were treated as separate entities, and property taxes thus levied separately upon them.