Korea, Republic of (formerly South Korea)
Open to Imports

NAME(S) OF REGULATION AND/OR STANDARD (with links):

As of July 1, 2014, organic processed products certified in Korea or in the U.S. may be sold as organic in either country. Under this pact, Korea recognizes USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent to Korea’s organic oversight program. The understanding allows processed organic products certified in Korea or in the United States to be sold as organic in either country. See the equivalence agreement information from USDA for more information.
 
Korean Organic Regulations (KOR)
 
The new Act on the Management and Support for the Promotion of Eco-Friendly Agriculture/Fisheries and Organic Foods consolidates Korea's organic regulations, and is sometimes referred to as the New Organic Regulations. Certification by a MAFRA-approved certifier is required. 
 
See the Food and Agricultural Import Regulations (FAIRS) report from December 2013 and this January 1 update for more details.
 
Act on the Management and Support for the Promotion of Eco-Friendly Agriculture/Fisheries and Organic Foods: Consolidates Korea's organic regulations, and is the legal basis for Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) organic certification program for both fresh produce and processed food products and equivalency for processed organic products. 
 
Environment-friendly Agriculture Promotion Act (.pdf; unofficial English translation)
- Enforcement Regulations and Annexes
- Guidelines on Designation as a Foreign Certification Body
 
Food Industry Promotion Act (.pdf; bilingual, scroll down for English) 
- Enforcement Decree
- Enforcement Regulations and Annexes
- Guidelines for Designating and Operating Certification Agencies
- Certification Inspection by Site and Related Training Sessions
- Operational Guidelines for the Organic Processed Food Certification Program
 
 
 

AUTHORIZED GOVERNMENT AGENCY(S):

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA)
MAFRA's National Agricultural Product Quality Management Service (NAQS) is responsible for setting quality standards and grades for agricultural products, enforcing country of origin marks, GMO labeling requirements, and organic labeling for fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains in the marketplace, accrediting certifiers of non-processed organic produce, and post monitoring of labeling of organic processed food products in the market place. NAQS collects samples from retail markets and tests products for GMO content with RDA-developed testing methods.

AGENCY(S) CONTACT INFORMATION:

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA)
94 Dasom2-ro
Government Complex-Sejong
Sejong-si 339-012,
Republic of Korea
Telephone: 82-2-1577-1020

Environment-Friendly Agriculture Division of the MAFRA
Tel.:  82-44-201-2432
Fax:  82-44-868-0483
E-mail:  chds@korea.kr or kbb0922@korea.kr

NAQS
172, Anyang-no, Manan-gu, Anyang-si, Gyeonggi-do
Telephone: 82-31-446-0124
Fax: 82-31-446-0901

DATE OF IMPLEMENTATION: 2011

DATE OF REVISIONS: 2013

REGULATION AND/OR STANDARD SCOPE:

The new Act on the Management and Support for the Promotion of Eco-Friendly Agriculture/Fisheries and Organic Foods consolidates Korea's organic regulations, and is sometimes referred to as the New Organic Regulations. Certification by a MAFRA-approved certifier is required, unless it is a processed organic product that meets the requirements of the US - Korea equivelence agreement effective July 1, 2014. In December 2013, the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) announced a six-month Education Period to allow business to adapt and transition to the new regulations, which were implemented January 1, 2014.

The Korean Environment-friendly Agriculture Promotion Act covers organic and other sustainable methods of agriculture. A very broad policy statement intended to encourage the conversion of Korean agriculture to more environmentally sustainable production methods, the Environment-friendly Act is complex, and 'organic' is included within most sections. The Act classifies agricultural products according to their methods of production and the materials used as either organic agricultural product; non-chemical agricultural products; non-antibiotics (for livestock) products; or low-chemical agricultural products. In the marketplace, a common seal may be used to identify products that comply with the Act with the different classifications identified through words (organic, non-chemical, non-antibiotic, and low-chemical.) Within the Act, the Korean enforcement regulations for organic agriculture products cover important areas including conditions of the production environment, transition to organic production, crop and seedling requirements, soil management, pest and weed control, animal production, healthcare, nutritional requirements and animal welfare, transition to organic production and materials allowed for crop and livestock production.

KOR is product-based standards. Crop and livestock producers will want to pay particular attention to The Environment-friendly Agriculture Promotion Act (Environment-friendly Act), which establishes the organic program for organic crop and livestock production. Processors will want to be familiar with The Food Industry Promotion Act, which establishes the organic program for organic processed products. KOR requires operators to select transportation methods for raw materials and products to minimize negative impacts on the environment. This is an environmental policy within Korea and does not affect organic integrity. KOR has zero tolerance for genetically-modified organisms in processed products. The regulations were introduced 2008, and have been consolidated as the Act on the Management and Support for the Promotion of Eco-Friendly Agriculture/Fisheries and Organic Foods

IMPORTED PRODUCTS:

As of July 1, 2014, the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) recognizes USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent to the Korean Environment-friendly Regulations and Korean Organic Program regarding processed products (under applicable MAFRA regulations for processed products) and allows processed products produced and certified as meeting USDA’s NOP standards to be marketed as “organic” in Korea. Likewise, the United States allows Korean  processed products produced and certified under the Korea Organic Program to be marketed as “organic” in the United States.

Conformity Assessments

Through a series of meetings and comprehensive on-site audits of both programs, both parties were able to ensure that while some of national program rules and approaches are not identical, they achieve an equivalent level of compliance, meet same objectives and maintain the high quality standards important to the integrity of both programs. 

Timelines

June 30, 2014 – Agreements signed following an exchange of letters

July 1, 2014 - Effective date that trade may begin under the arrangement published following the exchange of letters. The agreement will be ongoing and subject to annual review by the signators.

Critical Variances

The arrangement applies ONLY to processed products as defined by the Korean Food Code;

(Korean Food Code 1.2.29) "Processed food" refers to a food manufactured, processed, and packaged by adding food or food additives to food raw materials (agricultural, forestry, livestock, or marine products), transforming food raw materials (such as grinding or cutting) till their original forms cannot be recognized, or mixing such transformed ones or adding food or food additives to such mixture. However, where, without the use of food additives or other materials, the agricultural, forestry, livestock, or marine products are simply cut, peeled, salted, ripened, or heated (except the cases where heating is performed for sterilization or heating causes significant changes to those products) till their original forms can be recognized or where sanitary risks from treatment processes are not expected and food raw materials are simply treated so as to allow organoleptic identification of food quality, such food products are excluded from the definition of the processed food.”

In order to access each other’s markets with organic label claims, U.S. and Korean organic producers and processors will be required to attest that each shipment meets the terms of the arrangement. Additionally, producers must attest that:

  • no antibiotics were administered to animals;
  • the antibiotics tetracycline and streptomycin were not used to control fire blight in apples and pears.
  • that GMOs were not used in the production of organic processed products.


Exclusions
The agreement does NOT provide for equivalency for trade in raw and unprocessed products in accordance with the Korean Food Code. There are no provisions in the agreement covering organic aquaculture.

Required Transaction Documents include copies of:

  • Organic certificate
  • Transaction/Export Certificate from the Certification Body
  • Organic Ingredient List from the manufacturer
  • NAQS Import Notification of Organic Processed Food

Geographic Scope of this Agreement

Geographic scope of the U.S.– Korea Organic Trade Arrangement is comparable to the scope of the U.S.–E.U. and U.S./Japan Trade Arrangements.

  • Processed products that have been grown, processed, or packaged (where final processing occurred) in Korea or the U.S. and certified by an accredited certifying agency (ACA) operating within their respective country/region borders can be shipped directly to Korea.
  • Processed product certified to either standard that has NOT been grown, processed, packaged in the United States or Korea cannot be shipped directly to Korea/U.S.
  • Processed product NOT grown, processed or packaged in Korea that is destined for the United States must be certified to the USDA-NOP standard by a USDA-accredited certifier.
  • Processed product NOT grown, processed or packaged in the United States to be shipped directly to Korea  must be certified to the Korean organic standard or certified by a Certification Body recognized by Korea  as an equivalent Certification Body/Foreign Certification Agent.


Mutual Accreditation 

Korea and U.S. mutually recognize each other’s Accredited Certification Agents (ACA) and Registered Certification Bodies (RCB) as accredited certification agents.

Seal Use

Use of the USDA Organic seal and/or the MAFRA Organic Logo is allowed and optional, provided that products meet the USDA/Korean labeling requirements.

Certifier Mark

Korea and the U.S. require that the Accredited Certifier must be identified on the label.

Organic Labeling in Korea General Labeling Requirements: Product must still meet Korean and U.S.  general labeling requirements, which are similar to one another but may have subtle differences, just as product going to Canada must have dual language (English and French) labeling “Organic”.

Processed products certified by USDA-NOP accredited certifier may access the Korean market. All USDA certified processed products must comply with the USDA organic regulations

  • Applies only to processed  products containing 95 percent and above organic ingredients.
  • These products may be labeled with the word “organic” in English or Korean.
  • May use the USDA Organic seal and the Korean logo.

Additional Korean labeling requirements

  • Applies only to processed  products containing 95 percent and above organic ingredients.
  • Products destined for Korea must include the following on the label:
  • Manufactured by XXXX
  • Packaged in: USA
  • Certified by XXXX
  • Certificate number XXXXX
  • Telephone number of the Seller or Importer XX XXX XXX XXXX

For additional details on this agreement, please visit the USDA NOP website.

Organic agricultural produce complying with the U.S. organic standards or international standards still needs certification from MAFRA's official certification agency to carry a "Korean language organic label" in the Korean market.

CERTIFICATION: Mandatory

In addition to certification for plant and animal products, certification is also required for products comprised of less than 70% organic ingredients. MAFRA has officially designated Korean certification agencies and foreign entities, but none in the United States as of December 2013.

ACCREDITATION: GOVERNMENT

Accreditation is done by MAFRA's National Agricultural Product Quality Management Service (NAQS), and must be renewed every five years. 

Accreditation for crop and livestock certifiers comes under the Environment-friendly Act, which has specific guidelines for requirements for determining accreditation of foreign certification body that are largely equivalent to the requirements for determining accreditation of domestic certification bodies. There is an additional committee formed to review foreign certification bodies that does not have a parallel for domestic certification bodies. Accreditation for organic processed products falls under the Food Industry Promotion Act, which does not specifically call out accreditation protocols for foreign certification bodies, and subsequent Guidelines. Examples of KOR accreditation standards for foreign certification bodies that are not requirements for domestic certification bodies for Crops and Livestock: An Inspecting Committee of five to seven members reviews foreign certification body applicants. The Inspecting Committee is established under the Consumer Information and Food Safety Division of NAQS. The scope of certification work is limited to certifying organic products in the country in which the certification body is located. Additional offices that meet the certification body requirements must be established in each country in which agricultural products are certified. KOR requires, for certification bodies seeking processed organic product accreditation, a review team of three or more government employees that would do review of applications and on-site visits.


REFERENCE STANDARDS:

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

GENERAL FILES: