All New Building to Be Made Earthquake-Proof

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti that left hundreds of thousands dead, Korea is minded to require all new buildings to be earthquake-proof.

Park Yeon-soo, the head of the National Emergency Management Agency, on Monday said, "Learning the lesson of the earthquake disaster in Haiti, the government will require all new buildings to be built based on earthquake-proof designs, and give benefits including local tax breaks to owners of the existing private buildings when they make their buildings quake-resistant." The policy is to be discussed with other government agencies.

Under the current building code, only buildings of three stories or higher or with a total surface area of more than 1,000 sq. m must be quake-proof.

The new rules can simply take the form of a revised enforcement ordinance to the building code, which needs no parliamentary approval. The government will also revise a relevant law to exempt the owners from property, acquisition and registration tax if they voluntarily make existing buildings quake-resistant. It made the decision because the new rules put a bigger burden on ordinary people since it is mostly homes and small shops that will be affected by them.

The government also plans to work out detailed earthquake response measures for public facilities. Only 13.2 percent of schools but 89.7 percent of hospitals are quake resistant.

The priority will be on school buildings that are mostly used as disaster shelters, raising their quake resistance grade to the highest level, the same as that for hospitals and fire stations.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 26, 2010 13:17 KST