SEJONG - South Korea plans to help local air purification and conditioning companies to create more jobs and to better cope with the rising concerns over the dangerous levels of fine dust air pollution affecting the nation, the government said Monday.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy said the Gwangju Metropolitan City, located around 330 kilometers south of Seoul, inked an agreement with LG Electronics Inc. and Gwangju Techno Park, to join forces to beef up industries related to dust filtering.

“Recently, the market for air purification systems has been expanding sharply following the worsening level of fine dust, combined with the rising public’s awareness over health and higher incomes,” the ministry said. Citing industry data, the ministry said the domestic market for air cleaners was estimated at 2.5 trillion won (US$2.2 billion) in 2018, up sharply from 1 trillion won posted in 2016.

Through such cooperation, the ministry said it hopes to improve the overall competitiveness of air-purification companies based in Gwangju.

The ministry said while demand for air purification systems for different purposes, ranging from offices, schools, to underground malls, is increasing, the industry has yet to provide customized solutions for all the different needs.

Accordingly, the ministry said the agreement, clinched by the three parties, will center on rolling out joint research and educational programs, eventually to bolster the entire ecosystem of air-related industries in Gwangju.

“The memorandum of understanding signed on Monday is significant as it can contribute to revitalizing the regional economy, and seek cooperation by through partnerships in research and fostering experts,” the ministry said.

It added the aim of the tie-up is to support local small-and-medium sized companies to set eyes on overseas markets by providing them with test infrastructures that fall in line with global standards. The government will provide consulting programs for design, patent, and other issues related to products.