Construction in South Korea - Statistics & Facts

The construction sector is a major industry in South Korea, yet the past couple years have been difficult, as the construction industry’s gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by a third to around 40 trillion South Korean won in 2016. Despite the sudden drop in value, general construction work costs increased continuously over the past decade, reaching over 376 trillion South Korean won in 2018 (approx. 316 billion U.S. dollars as of February 2020).

Residential construction permits made up the largest proportion of the more than 270 thousand permits in issuance in 2018. The largest number of permits for housing was issued in the Gyeonggi province, surrounding the capital city of Seoul. This province contains many commuter towns for people with jobs in Seoul. Around seventy percent of these permits were for the construction of new apartment complexes, with apartments ranging between 40 and 85 square meters in size.

Overseas construction projects also make the construction sector a major export industry. Foreign entities contract with the major Korean construction companies to build buildings and facilities for them. A notable example is the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, U.A.E., which is currently the tallest structure in the world, built by Samsung C&T. Alas, Korean builders have seen orders decrease in recent years, falling as low as 282 orders in 2016. However, there was an increase to 321 orders in 2018. In any case, this was still less than half as many orders as builders received prior to 2014. The total value of overseas orders was around 32 billion U.S. dollars in 2018. Around half of these were from other Asian countries, and a third from Middle Eastern countries. Most of the orders were for industrial facilities, such as plants.

Samsung C&T is by far the leading construction company in South Korea, with building capacity estimated to be better than Hyundai E&C. Despite falling overseas orders, Samsung has seen its consolidated sales revenue increase significantly in recent years, rising from around five trillion won in 2014 to over thirty in 2018.

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Construction in South Korea

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