South Korea - Country Commercial Guide
Standards for Trade

Describes standards, identifies the national standards, accreditation bodies, and lists the national testing organization(s) and conformity assessment bodies.

Last published date: 2021-08-14

Overview

Under the WTO, the Korean Government is required to alert the WTO Committee of Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) on any changes in standards with 60 days of notice for comments before implementation. To be alerted on these notifications, please sign up at NotifUS.  

Details regarding standards and import regulations for food and agricultural products can be found on the Foreign Agricultural Service website and from the Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS) report for Korea.

Standards

The Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS)develops standards for most industrial products in Korea. The agency consults with other private organizations to develop standards and certification requirements. 

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS)  establishes standards for research, new product evaluation, test method development, product monitoring for food, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and radiation technology distributed within Korea. 

The Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA) covers telecommunications, information technology, radio communications and broadcasting. The Association establishes industry standards and has been instrumental in creating the current Korean Information and Communication Standards. TTA also collaborates with international and national standards organizations, such as ITU and other organizations.

NIST Notify U.S. Service

Member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) to report to the WTO all proposed technical regulations which could affect trade with other member countries. Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail subscription service that offers the opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that may affect access to international markets. Register online at: https://tsapps.nist.gov/notifyus/data/index/index.cfm.

Testing, Inspection and Certification

KATS establishes guidelines for government and private sector institutions to perform reliability assessment and certification. It also performs market surveillance on Korean Certification (KC)-marked products and penalizes products that do not meet KC requirements. 

Korea is a signatory to the GATT Standards Agreement. As such, Korea must apply open procedures for the adoption of standards, announce recommended standards, provide sufficient information on proposed standards or alterations in standards, and allow enough time for countries and other stakeholders to comment on proposed standards implementation.

Product Certification

KATS issues certification marks for new technologies and recognizes quality products manufactured by Korean companies mainly to promote exports and imports into Korea. On July 1, 2009, KATS began issuing the KC Mark for items that fall under its jurisdiction.

Information related to the KC Mark in English can be found at the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) website at: https://www.standardsportal.org/usa_kr/e/conformity_assessment/ca_marks_used_in_korea.aspx. The KC Mark is required to reduce and minimize repetitive testing at various ministries and agencies. The consolidation of these marks ensures that companies, both Korean and foreign, will save time and costs due to reduced redundancies introduced into this new system.

Accreditation

Korea Accreditation System (KAS) is a national accreditation body established in 2001 within the framework of Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) which is a governmental body under the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE). The Administrator of KATS serves as the Head of KAS. Additional information and accreditation bodies can be found under the KOLAS website athttps://www.knab.go.kr/.

Publication of Technical Regulations

Revised or new standards or technical regulations are published by the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) and made available at https://www.kats.go.kr/main.doThe articles are generally published only in Korean. All proposed or newly revised/established technical regulations are consolidated on this site.

Proposed revisions or establishment of regulations in Korea are made by the Director of Technical Regulations via the website: https://www.kats.go.kr/main.do.  A public meeting consisting of lawmakers as well as relevant private/public industry organizations is held to comment on proposed regulations. Contact the U.S. Embassy, Commercial Section for assistance with revised or new standards.

Resources

  • Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS)
  • Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS)
  • Korean Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (KOLAS)