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2022 Overview of the Korean Flat Glass Industry

The Korean flat glass industry, which consists of two large flat glass companies, has experienced many twists and turns in the past two years due to the impact of the Covid-19.

KCC Glassplate glass3,700t/d
Hankuk Glassplate glass2,240t/d

Some key news from the Korean glass industry over the past 24 months: Saint Gobain spins off from Hankuk Glass Industries, KCC Glass spins off from parent company KCC Corporation in the flat glass segment, and more.Encouraging data on the Korean economy is expected to benefit South Korean flat glassmakers. According to Reuters, Asia's fourth-largest economy is expected to grow by 4.0 percent in 2021, a sharp rebound after the economy contracted by 1.0 percent in 2020, the first contraction in more than 20 years. But growth is expected to slow to 3.0% in 2022 and 2.6% in 2023.

The Korean float glass industry

The Korean float glass industry, which consists of two float glass producers KCC Glass-KCC Glass and Hankuk Glas-Korea Glass, has seen steady growth over the past few years. The total float glass production of the two float glass producers reached 5,940 t/d. Domestically produced flat glass accounts for about 80% of the country's total flat glass demand, while the rest is imported from Southeast Asian countries and China. One of the major segments, the architectural curtain wall glazing market, contributed to this growth.

1. The architectural glass

The steady growth of the construction industry has been the backbone of the Korean architectural glass industry. In 2020, South Korea's construction industry, which includes public and private infrastructure and civil engineering services, achieved double-digit growth with an increase of 16.9%. Despite the 2019  pandemic, the construction industry's revenue reached 164 billion US dollars (194 trillion won). The Korea Construction Association predicts that an increase in construction orders in 2021 will stimulate the economy. According to the government, the size of the South Korean construction market exceeded US$142 billion, for the first time in history (166 trillion won).

2. KCC Flat Glass Manufacturer

KCC is the largest flat glass producer in Korea. The company was spun off from its parent company in January 2020 to ensure stable glass supply and demand and to develop high-performance glass, including head-up display (HUD) glass, and lightweight laminated glass. KCC Glass has 5 float glass production lines, which can produce 3,700 tons/day of float glass.

The last time KCC Glass expanded its production capacity was in 2015 when KCC Glass started producing a double-width production line dedicated to automotive-grade glass, bringing the company's total production capacity to 3,700 tons per day. The company installed one of the largest float glass production lines in the Asia-Pacific region at this production line, with an installed capacity of 1,200 tons of float glass.

China National Building Material Engineering Group and South Korea's KCC Group signed a general contract for a 1200 t/d float glass production line in Indonesia.

The company also can produce approximately 17 million square meters of coated glass annually through two production lines.

Figure 1 The signing site from 1200 t/d float glass production line 1

Figure 1 The signing site from 1200 t/d float glass production line 1

In December 2020, KCC Glass merged with Korea Autoglass Corp, a manufacturer of automotive glass for domestic and export markets. In 2020, the automotive safety glass segment accounted for around 90% of total sales in South Korea. It is a major supplier to domestic auto companies such as Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, and General Motors, and maintains a 70% market share through exports.

Figure 2 The KCC Flat Glass Manufacturer

Figure 2 The KCC Flat Glass Manufacturer

3. Hankuk Glass Industries Korea Glass Company

Founded in 1957, Korea Glass Corporation was the leader in the Korean flat glass market until KCC entered the flat glass market in 1987. As of 2019, Korea Glass, a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, is the smaller of the two domestic flat glass companies.

The company operates a total of four float glass production lines at two locations in Gunsan and Busan, South Korea. The Gunsan plant has three state-of-the-art float glass production lines, while the Busan plant has one float glass production line and one patterned glass production line. The total capacity of the four float glass lines is 2,240 t/d.

Figure 3 The Hankuk Glass Industries

Figure 3 The Hankuk Glass Industries

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