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Revision on Seismic Design Standards for Buildings with Total Floor Area Exceeding 200m2 by September

Tai Jeong

By Tai Jeong

Technical Director, Canada Wood Korea

September 11, 2017

Distribution of Earthquake Epicenters and Magnitudes in Korea
Image credit: Korea Meteorological Administration

More buildings will be subject to seismic design requirements as the current requirements, applied to buildings with a total floor space exceeding 500m2, will be more widely applied to include buildings with over 200m2 in floor space as early as August of this year. It appears that stricter seismic design requirements are being prepared in response to rising social concerns toward earthquakes due to successive reports on the disaster.

Seismic design requirements were first introduced in 1988 for buildings 6 storey and higher or total floor area 100,000m2 for the first time in Korea and the latest major revision was made in 2005 requiring building structures 3 storey and higher or total floor area 1,000 m2 be seismically designed for safety and in 2015, minor change was made to restrict the total floor area to 500 m2.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) announced on June 15 that they will prepare a revised bill of the Enforcement Decree of the Building Act by reflecting major contents of the Comprehensive Measure for Earthquake Prevention announced at the end of last year, which will be followed by the preannouncement of its legislation.

According to the revised bill, the minimum total floor space of buildings subject to seismic design requirements for reducing earthquake damages will grow stricter from the current 500m2 to 200m2. All newly constructed houses including single family houses and apartment houses will be obligated to have seismic design regardless of the total floor space.

However, owing to the strong persuasion by the Korea Wood Construction Association along with proven technical information from Canada Wood Korea, MLIT allowed exemption for wood frame buildings to be obligated to meet seismic design requirements only when the building’s 3 storey or higher and total floor space in excess of 500m2 like before. The most important implication of the successful lobbying seems to be that the Korean government has acknowledged the inherent strength of the wood frame construction against earthquakes, thus boosting consumer confidences in wood frame structures and enhancing the competitiveness of the wood frame structure in Korea.

Canada Wood Korea is planning to hold series of workshops on seismic design for wood frame construction in this and coming years in response to the revisions related to the increased interest in seismic design.