Market Overview

Since the early 2000s, the trend of building with wood in Korea has increased. This is largely due to the country’s rising affluence, as well as new policies supporting the urban decentralization strategy that encourages a more balanced mix of building types (high-, mid- and low-rise). Government efforts to encourage the construction of passive and zero-energy buildings by 2025 present further opportunities for wood within Korea’s construction sector.

In addition, with the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, BC enjoys tariff-free access for our lumber products and will see the gradual elimination of tariffs for other wood products.

Photo: Canada Village, South Korea | Credit: Canada Wood Korea

Key Stats

0

%
of BC wood shipped to Korea is construction-grade lumber

0

x
The value of BC softwood lumber exports to Korea has more than doubled since 2006.

0

projects were converted from 100$ concrete to incorporating Canadian wood in 2020/21

Why South Korea?

  • Preference for construction-grade lumber
  • Government policies increasingly favour wood construction
  • Societal preferences increasingly favour wood
  • Canada has the expertise and product to meet the growing demand
Photo: Dong-cheon Urban First Town House, South Jeolla province | Credit: Gwangjang Architects

Market Priorities

  • Expand wood use in residential construction
  • Support and facilitate wood use within industrialized construction (multi-storey/multi-family residential, non-residential and tall wood mass timber) and prefabrication
  • Position Canadian wood products and building systems as solutions to South Korea’s low carbon and sustainability goals
  • Expand the market for BC value-added products in South Korea
Photo: South Korea technical mission to BC | Credit: Canada Wood Korea

Strategic Approach

Supported by FII and the federal government, the Canada Wood Group leads market development programming in South Korea and continues work to expand opportunities for Canadian forest products, particularly in the construction sector. Efforts are focused on removing barriers to wood use, building capacity through training, expanding and deepening government contacts and providing guidance and technical support to the industry.

Photo: Canada Wood’s Dagagu house demo project, Incheon Metropolitan City | Credit: Canada Wood Korea

Featured Projects

Removing limits on wood building height and size

South Korea recently changed building codes to remove height and floor area limits on wood buildings. Previously, wood buildings were restricted to a maximum height of five storeys and a maximum floor area of 3,000m2. This code change, in effect as of November 2020, creates an exciting opportunity for tall wood and mass timber in Korea.

The code change was made possible because the South Korean government recognized that the development of new high-performance wood products, such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), were shown to have high performance in both structural and fire safety. However, amongst developers and designers, hurdles still need to be overcome in terms of awareness and attitudes in the areas of wood’s safety performance and environmental footprint.

Efforts to change the perception of wood within the building and design communities are being aided by Korean media, which has been paying more attention to tall wood buildings and wood as a building material. This interest has been spurred on by the code updates, as well as Canada Wood’s proactive outreach and promotion of the sector though leveraging social media, nurturing key influencer relationships and building capacity. Media coverage has particularly focused on the benefits of wood use in a built environment, safety performance, the environmental benefits and, especially, the biophilic benefits of exposed wood.

Thanks to the code changes, positive media coverage and the efforts made by leading architects who embrace tall wood mass timber, South Korea is ramping up its capacity to build more wood buildings, creating a larger market opportunity for BC wood products in this space moving forward.

Photo: The Hangreen, a 19.1-metre five-storey wooden building in Yeongju, North Gyeongsang Province by the Korea
Forest Service | Credit: Mr. Youngchae Park

Decade-long field test to open doors for Canadian wood

Pressure-treated wood has been widely used as a durable construction and landscaping material in South Korea and is an important market segment for Canadian wood products. Therefore, removing barriers for use of pressure-treated Canadian wood products has been a key focus area for the Korea team.

To meet the Korean government standards for treated lumber, Canada Wood Korea—in collaboration with FPInnovations, and its Korean partners, GNTECH and KWPA—initiated a decade-long outdoor “field stake performance test” with pressure-treated spruce and western hemlock to measure the products’ ability to withstand decay and termite attacks. Annual inspections to review the progress and results were completed in 2020 and indicated effective protection, both in areas with ground contact and in above-ground conditions.

As a result of the 10-year performance findings, Canada Wood Korea expects that Korean treatment provisions may be expanded to accept Canadian species and treatment standards.

Photo: Field test of Canadian treated wood at 10th year | Credit: Canada Wood Korea

Industrialized construction provides new opportunities

In South Korea there is a growing interest in applications for wood within industrialized construction—thanks in part to Canada Wood Korea’s ongoing efforts to promote wood use through demonstration projects, knowledge transfer, training and capacity building.

In an example of growing market uptake, Smart House, a South Korean wood home builder, partnered with a Canadian panelization fabricator, AmeriCan Structure, to jointly invest in the opening of a new panelization factory. The facility will use Canadian wood species within panelized wood products that are manufactured and precut in the factory and then sent to construction locations for quick assembly. By manufacturing the prefabricated building components, the factory will create a more cost- and time-efficient process for building wood homes.

South Korea is also anticipating a large-scale building market boom and a growing demand for large-scale wooden structures for which the factory will help the country prepare. The growth of industrialized wood construction will help to sustain and expand market opportunities for structural lumber and other Canadian wood products in South Korea.

Photo: Prefabrication and installation of prefab house by a Korean prefab-modular manufacturer | Credit: Smart House

BC Wood expands opportunities within the South Korean Resort Sector

One of BC Wood’s key strategies for growing opportunities in Asia is pursuing the South Korean resort market.

By leveraging Canada’s reputation as having some of the best resorts in the world, BC Wood has built a platform to provide quality education on resort planning and development, showcasing the importance of wood design and construction alongside wooden architectural expertise.

In response to COVID-19, BC Wood adapted their successful in-person seminars to virtual platforms, targeting audiences who have the ability to specify wood products in hospitality facilities. BC Wood developed a hybrid, two-day seminar approach, with Canadian experts presenting through Zoom, coupled with in-person events for participants which could also be attended remotely. The first day focused on heavy timber structures and the second day concentrated on resort-related mass timber structures.

Feedback from resort owners and developers, key government officials and destination management organizations has been very positive. BC Wood Korea will continue to grow these relationships, provide support and build on this year’s hybrid seminars with an even more refined curriculum.