Year-on-year, exports declined by 0.4 percent to USD 45.37 billion, following a revised 3.6 percent gain in the previous month. Outward shipments of semiconductors, the country's single-largest exports items, rose 13.7 percent while sales of ships increased by 62.5 percent.
Sales to the US increased by 15.2 percent from a year earlier while those to China rose 5.3 percent. In contrast, exports to Japan declined by 19.2 percent while those to the ASEAN countries slipped by 8.3 percent.
Imports dropped by 11.0 percent to USD 39.84 billion, compared with a 0.9 percent fall in the preceding month. Purchases of oil fell by almost 42 percent year-on-year to USD 5 billion with those of petroleum products declining by 51.9 percent. In contrast, imports of consumer products increased by 19.2 percent.
In December, the country posted a revised USD 5.75 billion trade surplus.
South Korea has been recording trade surpluses since February 2012.
For 2015, total exports is expected to grow by 3.7 percent to USD 594.0 billion, mainly due to an expansion of the country's free trade agrements, including with China. Total import is projected to expand by 3.2 percent to USD 542.0 billion.