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A Primer on Korea’s Standards System: Standardization, Conformity Assessment, and Metrology



Dong G. Choi


NIST, in particular the Standards Services Group (SSG) of the Standards Coordination Office (SCO), provides standards-related expertise and services to strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life in the US. Monitoring and providing standards-related activities of major U.S. trade partners is part of its mission. This NIST report provides U.S. industries and federal agencies with up-to-date information about Korea’s standards system to facilitate understanding of a major trading partner. In 2011, the Republic of Korea, or South Korea, ranked as the 12th largest economy in the world by gross domestic product with purchasing power parity (GDP PPP) of 1.55 trillion dollars, and the 9th largest trading economy with over 1.27 trillion dollar trading volume. In that year, Korea was one of the major trade partners of the United States (U.S.). U.S. goods and services trade with Korea totaled $125 billion. In that year, Korea was the 7th largest goods trading partner of the U.S. with $100 billion in total (two way) goods trade. U.S. exports of agricultural products to Korea totaled $7.0 billion, the 5th largest U.S. agriculture export market. This report may help U.S. exporters and importers capitalize on trade opportunities created through the newly enacted US-Korea trade agreement on March 15, 2012 by briefly explaining how the Korean standards system works. Even though Korea’s standards system is transitioning towards a public-private balanced system, it is currently more public-sector-led or legislation-based similar to most of the developing and newly developed nations. It is not same as the developed economies in Europe and North America. The difference may have originated from its history and development of industrialization. Understanding the roles and scope of legislation and institutions is cardinal to understanding Korea’s standards system as well as many other developing or newly industrialized countries.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7905
Report Number


Korea, Standards System, Standardization, Conformity Assessment, Metrology, Legislation, Laws, Organizations, Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS), Korean Standards Association (KSA), Korea Research Institute for Standards and Science (KRISS)


Choi, D. (2013), A Primer on Korea’s Standards System: Standardization, Conformity Assessment, and Metrology, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 15, 2024)


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Created January 18, 2013, Updated March 12, 2020