South Korea Korea Financial Services Commission to start mandatory ESG reports disclosure in 2025

On January 14, 2021, the Financial Services Commission (hereinafter “the Commission”) of South Korea announced that it planned to mandate companies listed in KOSPI to disclose their environmental, social and governance (ESG) reports beginning in 2025 in a phased manner. According to the Commission, initially they will start it with listed companies with assets of 2 trillion KRW (about 1.8 billion USD). Eventually, all of KOSPI listed companies will be covered by the mandatory disclosure regime by 2030. For a report on corporate governance, the mandatory disclosure has already started. Since 2019, listed companies with total assets of 2 trillion KRW have been required to disclose their corporate governance reports and all of KOSPI listed companies will be required to do so from 2026. The schedule for mandatory reporting regime is as follows:

Schedule

Mandatory disclosure of corporate governance reports

Mandatory disclosure of ESG reports

January 2021 Companies with 2 trillion KRW (since 2019) Voluntary
2022 Companies with 1 trillion KRW
2024 Companies with 50 billion KRW
2025 Companies with 2 trillion KRW
2026 All KOSPI listed companies
2030 All KOSPI listed companies

The Korea Exchange (KRX) plans to set guidelines on ESG report disclosure by the end of January 2021, which will include sample cases that consider industry-specific factors, sample cases of assessment conducted, relevant international standards, etc.

According to an announcement by the Commission, about 100 companies in South Korea disclose their ESG reports every year, but only about 20 companies disclose ESG reports to KRX. The Commission added that requiring listed companies to disclose their ESG reports from 2025 will serve as an institutional basis to promote disclosure of ESG-related information by companies.

On the other hand, to reduce the burden on companies associated with disclosure of ESG reports, the Commission said that it planned to reduce the number of items to be disclosed in quarterly reports.