SEJONG-- The land ministry will conduct research and development to build structure exteriors that can better withstand earthquakes, officials said Tuesday.

A magnitude 5.4 tremor in the southeastern city of Pohang on Nov. 15 showed a building's outer surface falling apart, raising new safety concerns that current construction regulations do not address. The most recent regulation revisions in 2005 do not specify in detail how a structure's exterior needs to be built to hold together, officials said.

The ministry plans to start a research and development project next year with a 4.5 billion won (US$4.09 million) budget to establish new guidelines for the exterior construction, according to the officials. The project will be completed in 2021, they said.

"We are considering a two-track approach, setting guidelines for specific materials first as we conduct the overall R and D," an official said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency