The Federation of Construction Associations held a ceremony to commemorate the 69th Construction Day on June 17 at the Construction Hall in Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul.
The main theme was “Construction Together with the People, to the World, to the Future, the Korean Construction, Building Hope.” Some 1,000 people attended the event including high-ranking government officials led by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, Minister Kang Ho-in of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and legislators led by Rep. Cho Jeong-shik, chairman of the Land and Transport Committee of the National Assembly, the CEOs of major construction firms, and related organizations, among others.
In his congratulatory speech, Chairman Choi Sam-kyu congratulated the winners of medals and citations for their contributions to the construction industry, saying the construction industry, too, should adapt to the changes of the ages by developing new infrastructure in fusion with new IT, creating new businesses to improve old infrastructure and rebuild downtown areas of major cities. They should also be selective about their work to improve profitability and explore new markets under an extensive drive to create new growth momentum.
Choi recalled that the construction industry began to make its great stride from 70 years ago and has made a significant contribution to the growth of the national economy, making Korea what it is today.
Not content with its domestic operations, the industry opened an age of overseas expansion and accumulated orders in excess of $700 billion.
Now that the business environment has changed, he calling on the industry to reform to create new growth engines through the adoption of ICT. That will help the sector secure advanced productivity and technological competitiveness, he said. “We ought to explore new markets putting all we have into the effort, disavowing heated competition among us, the chairman urged,” Choi added.
President Park Hai-sang of Wooseok Construction and President Kim Choong-jae of Kumkang Housing Co. won the Industrial Merit Gold Tower Medals.
The five executives of the construction firms, including Lee Hong-koo of Hyundai Construction, won the Presidential Citation while another group of five managers of construction firms led by Manager Kim Kwan-yong of SK Construction won the Prime Minister’s Citations at the ceremony.
Overseas orders won by South Korean construction companies fell to the lowest level in four years recently, a trade association said June 6, in the latest sign that local builders are reeling from the impact of low oil prices. The combined overseas orders came to US$14.1 billion between January and the second week of June according to data compiled by the International Contractors Association of Korea.
The figures represent a 40 percent decline from $23.5 billion in the same period last year. Overseas orders won by South Korean construction companies in the same period in 2012 stood at $13.7 billion.
Low oil prices are blamed for the drop in overseas orders won by South Korean construction companies.
An official of the trade association said that it could take time for oil-producing countries to assess the profitability of projects before placing orders, though oil prices have been on the rise recently.
The South Korean government is pushing to help local construction companies win overseas orders.
Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Kang Ho-in visited Malaysia early in June in an apparent move to boost the chances of South Korean companies which are seeking to win a high-speed rail project that connects Malaysia to Singapore.
He also plans to attend the inauguration of the Panama Canal's $5.25 billion expansion later this month before visiting Chile.