South Korean apparel imports soared 54 per cent in October to $310 million compared to the year-ago period amid a flood of deliveries from China, industry chiefs announced on Monday.

Figures from the Korea Apparel Industry Association showed monthly imports reached a record level in October with 10 month imports surging 34 per cent to $1.89 billion from $1.67bn in 2001.

The association said the jump in apparel imports is partly due to domestic firms setting up plants abroad in countries such as China and Vietnam.

"The void created by the relocation of Korean firms tended to be filled in by cheap imports from China," it said.

"Companies which are still operating in Korea are seeking to relocate their production lines to countries where they can lower costs. Consequently, the foundation of the domestic apparel industry is likely to be further weakened."