South Korea - Country Commercial Guide
Air Pollution Control

Korea Air Pollution Control Industry overview, best prospects, trade shows and contacts

Last published date: 2021-08-13



              (Unit: $ million)





Total Market Size




Total Local Production




Total Exports




Total Imports




Imports from the U.S.

2,298 (18%)

2,400 (17%)

2,464 (18%)

Exchange Rate: 1 USD




 Data Sources:  Industrial Statistics Analysis System, Ministry of Trade and Industry

Korea’s chemistry industry has been rapidly developing and the country is ranked at the world’s 5th production scale as of 2019. Still the demands for high quality, sophisticated chemical products and associated substances production presents a lucrative opportunity to the U.S. chemical manufactures. In 2020, the estimated total value of Korea’s specialty and fine chemicals market was $55 billion, representing a 3 percent increase from the previous year.  The U.S. holds around 18 percent share of the specialty chemical import market followed by China.  In 2020, Korea’s export grew by 23 percent, but import decreased by 2.6 percent, which produced $5,680 million of trade surplus.

Korea’s specialty chemical market is facing new issues from China’s slower economic growth rate, environmental safety controls, and lack of original technologies.  The technological level of dyes & pigments from domestic producers appears to be on par with other advanced countries, but it lags in the development of specialty chemicals that require the accumulation of fundamental core technologies acquired by substantial R&D investments and time. As a result, market demand for sophisticated specialty chemicals present opportunities for foreign importers. 

Korea imports raw materials to process and re-export them to third countries. Imported chemicals are essential in the production of some of Korea’s top exports, which include: semiconductors, electronics, wireless communication equipment, flat display, computers, automobile/auto parts, ships, plastics, and petrochemicals. Korean manufacturers have long been conservative in changing supply channels that often require the modification of the production process. However, Korean manufacturers, especially for electronic and semi-conductor sectors have been diversifying suppliers, as well as investing substantially in domestic technologies after Japan’s export bans in 2019 on raw chemicals for semiconductor production.

U.S. chemical exports receive duty-free benefits under the Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Korea.  Korea’s regulatory environment, however, presents challenges to U.S. companies in terms of significant administrative and technical burdens that translate into an overall increased cost of doing business. The other most frequently raised regulatory issues have been concerns over the protection of confidential business information in accordance with Act on Registration and Evaluation, etc. of Chemical Substances in Korea (also known as K-REACH). The foreign manufacturer who intends to export chemicals to Korea should comply with pre-notification and registration in accordance with this law.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

  • Specialty chemicals for the medical and pharmaceutical industries
  • Specialty chemicals for the cosmetics industry
  • Specialty chemicals for the Information communication technology (Semiconductor/Display)


While competition is becoming intense with local and third country suppliers, there is strong demand for highly innovative materials from the U.S. Korea has been a proven market for U.S. raw and intermediate chemicals used to produce finished pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and surfactant products. Recently, high molecular new materials and chemical ingredients for electronics & IT and biologically active materials are in high demand as Korea’s relevant end-use sectors increase. Additionally, the market is focused on high-value fine chemical technology including automobile, aerospace, electrical & electronics, and high-tech medical devices.


Trade Shows

  • Chemical Manufacturing Expo Korea
  • International Coating, Adhesive, and Film Industry Expo
  • International Hi-Tech Surface & Painting Expo
  • International Chemical & Bio Equipment Expo
  • Int’l Exhibition for Chemical Processing, Fine & Specialty Chemicals:
  • Cosmetic Ingredient & Technology Exhibition
  • In-Cosmetics Korea

Key Contacts

  • Ministry of Environment
  • Ministry of Employment and Labor
  • National Institute of Environmental Research

Local Contact

(Ms.) Song Oh
Commercial Specialist
Commercial Service Korea
U.S. Embassy
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu
Seoul 03141 Korea
Tel: 82-2-397-4396
Fax: 82-2-739-1628