Korea Seed Industry News

This page features a compilation and selection of Korean seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in the Republic of Korea (South Korea). 

The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.

This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.


2024 News


KOREA SEED EXPO 2023 Showcases Growth in Seed Industry

Last October, the K-Seed Valley in Gimje City, Jeollabuk-do Province, Republic of Korea, hosted the Korea Seed Expo 2023, a significant event in the seed industry. The expo featured the participation of 89 companies and institutions, including 64 seed companies and 25 institutions. The demonstration field showcased 489 varieties of 61 crops, attracting 44,000 offline visitors. The event also included a Mou Signing Ceremony, marking important collaborations within the seed industry. For more details on the major achievements and partnerships, stay tuned for coverage in Asian Seed Magazine.

Innovative Vertical Farming Successfully Trialed For Wasabi Production: January 8: A former investment analyst and home farmer based in Seoul is pioneering wasabi cultivation by utilizing vertical farming techniques. One of the world's most expensive crops, wasabi sells for around USD 300 per kg due to its high demand and limited supply. The experiments have yielded promising results, indicating that wasabi thrives in aeroponic setups, which could solve climate-related challenges faced by outdoor growers. With plans to expand into a larger facility by mid-2024, he anticipates producing significant quantities of wasabi rhizomes, targeting both B2B and B2C markets in Korea and expansion into Japan. More details here

2023 News


2023 News 


North responds to food crisis in upper peninsula: August 23: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, alongside his sister Kim Yo Jong and senior officials, visited the Kumsong Tractor Factory to tackle the ongoing food crisis, as reported by state media KCNA. Kim emphasized the factory's pivotal role in alleviating the scarcity issue and urged the modernization of agricultural machinery production to attain a "world-class" standard. Amid rising food shortages, North Korea prioritizes agricultural initiatives. Some experts speculate the factory's involvement in missile vehicle parts. Despite increased trade with China, the North's food situation remains challenging, as noted by South Korea's unification minister. Natural disasters and COVID-19 border closures worsen the crisis, say experts. Kim previously critiqued officials over flood damage response and inspected typhoon-affected farmlands. Source.

Deadly flooding in South Korea: July 17: South Korea has experienced up to 23 inches of rain since Thursday, leading to devastating landslides, road collapses, crop destruction, and damage to homes and buildings. The heavy downpour resulted in 40 fatalities across the country, with nine people still missing. The southern region is expected to face more heavy rain, with the potential for 2.5 inches per hour on Tuesday and up to 3.1 inches per hour on Wednesday in Jeju Island. The Korea Meteorological Administration has issued warnings regarding the ongoing severe weather situation. Source.

South Korea to boost rice production in Africa: July 6: South Korea is set to sign an agreement with eight African nations to enhance rice production and reduce their reliance on imports. Agriculture Minister Chung Hwang-keun revealed the "K-Ricebelt Project," aiming to establish facilities in Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, Cameroon, Uganda, and Kenya to produce rice seeds suited to local conditions, with higher yields than domestic varieties. This move comes amidst concerns over food security in Africa and aligns with President Yoon Suk Yeol's vision to make South Korea a "global pivotal state" with an active role on the world stage. The project plans to distribute 10,000 tonnes of rice seeds annually from 2027, with a budget of over 100 billion won ($77 million) for the next four years. Source.


KOICA Launches Vegetable Seed Cultivation Complex in Uganda: June 21: Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) will begin constructing a pilot cultivation complex in Uganda to develop native vegetable seeds and boost local farmers' income. The complex will be built in four areas, covering 3.8 hectares, each equipped with greenhouses, water tanks, wells, and distribution infrastructure. A total of 33 Korean-made greenhouses will be installed to produce native Ugandan seeds for five vegetable types. This project is part of KOICA's Uganda Key Vegetable Crop Seed Value Chain Project, with a total investment of US$8 million from 2021 to 2029. The construction is expected to be completed in approximately one year. Source.

South Korea Aims to Boost Food Exports: March 8: The South Korean government aims to reach $10 billion in exports of farm and food items this year and $15 billion in 2027, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The ministry plans to establish a task force to address export challenges and explore business opportunities in various fields, such as food, smart farms, agricultural machinery, and seeds. The government also plans to diversify the export destinations for smart farming solutions and convert 30% of domestic greenhouses and animal sheds into smart farms by 2027.

South Korea plans to diversify its export destination for smart farming solutions, which are currently being exported to Kazakhstan and Vietnam, and aims to establish more pilot greenhouses in Australia and the Middle East this year.

In addition, the government seeks official development assistance for African countries under the name of Korean Rice Belt (K-Rice Belt) and plans to increase the local supply rate of overall food consumption from 44.4% in 2021 to 55.5% by 2027 by providing more subsidies to farmers who grow strategic crops such as wheat and bean. Source

North Korea Orders Residents to Plant Sunflowers for Oil: April 26: Residents of the North Korean province of Kangwon have been ordered to plant sunflowers for cooking oil production. The provincial party committee has stressed that all residents must contribute to reduce imports of low quality cooking oil from China, and ordered all companies, organizations, farms, and schools to plant sunflowers and be ready to meet their assigned quotas by autumn.

However, many residents worry that this will means they will have even less land to grow food grains, and some wealthier residents say they plan to buy sunflower seeds from China instead of growing their own.

Despite the complaints, those in Kangwon Province have no choice but to carry out the order, amid concerns about the seeds being stolen when the sunflowers bloom. Source

Q 1

Regulator proposes label ban for hemp compound terms: January 23: South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has reportedly proposed to prohibit the use of CBD (Cannabidiol), THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and other similar terms on the labels of hemp products, including hemp seed oil. Citing its aim to avert confusion amongst consumers, the regulator is receiving public comment on its proposal until February 27. Both naturally occurring compounds of cannabis are classified by the regulator as narcotics and thus restricted in consumer products – CBD not allowed to exceed 10 mg per kg, and THC 5mg per kg. Source.

However, Asian Seed notes that South Korea has authorized certain licensed pharmaceutical products containing said cannabis-derived compounds to be prescribed under strict medical protocol. See Korea cannabis industry background info here

Ag Minister vows rapid digital, youth transformation: February 19: Through coordinated efforts to transform the traditional, labor-intensive industry into a new high-tech sustainable growth driver, the Korean government will support young farmers, speed up the digitization of key farming technologies, and make significant investments in food tech industries, the East Asian country’s agriculture minister said in an interview. The Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs Chung Hwang-keunsaid that talented young people will receive comprehensive government support to learn the skills of smart farming, primarily taking the form of in-depth education and training programs, financing, and improved living conditions. Source

Food shortages ‘worsening’ in North: February 22: According to South Korea's unification ministry, North Korea's food shortages look to be becoming worse. According to the ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs, the North has acknowledged the severity of its food shortages and has designated agricultural development as a "particularly urgent" objective for this year. The North reportedly reduced daily rations to soldiers from 620 grams per person to 580 grams, according to the Dong-A Ilbo, a daily newspaper. Unification Minister Kwon Young-se stated during a parliamentary committee meeting that the North is alleged to have requested food aid from the World Food Program; however, in related international coverage, it was reported that the North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun published statements implying that the reliance on external aid to cope with food shortages would be akin to taking “poisoned candy. The concerned editorial reportedly urged economic self-reliance, warning against economic help from “imperialists” that was compared to “trap to plunder and subjugate” recipient countries and interfere with their internal politics. Source here and here

Rice control act revision ‘likely’ to be vetoed if passed: February 17: A revision to the rice control act, which is being pursued by the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), has a high chance of being vetoed by the president, if as expected, it is passed in parliament. The revision concerns “revising the Grain Management Act to force the government to purchase overproduced rice when the production volume surpasses a certain level, or when rice prices drop by more than 5 percent from a year earlier,” according to a report. Pending a plenary session vote, the revision is expected to be passed by simple majority in the DPK-majority Assembly. The presidential office and the PPP party have raised concerns about the “unconditional” and “unlimited” purchase of excess or undervalued rice not being effective means to help farmers. South Korea’s Constitution allows for the president to veto a bill, which would prompt for the National Assembly to review it, and revote – this time requiring two-thirds approval to become law. Source

Quarantine of carrot seeds quarantine lifted: APSA has learned from its Korean members about changes to a regulation mandating quarantine of carrot seeds imported to Korea. The regulation concerns screening of Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum' or CLSO. Citing a Pest Risk Analysis, it was announced that the quarantine regulation would be lifted from the shipment on Dec. 6, 2022. However, until the concerned implementing law is revised, seeds of carrot and other Umbeiliferae crops' seeds are not permitted to be imported from Norway,  Germany,  Morocco,  Sweden, Spain, France and Finland. In effect, all Asian countries are able to ship the carrot seeds to Korea.

2022 News


2022 News

Q3 news

North Korean farm woes persist throughout summer: August 25: Farmland and crops in some parts of North Korea’s Hwanghae provinces, have been devastated by rains and winds. The two provinces are considered the country’s breadbasket. Many hectares of standing field crops, including rice, beans and corn, were washed away by torrential rains or blown over by high winds, including in North Hwanghae Province’s counties of Kumchon, Tosan and Changpung. Likewise, in some parts of South Hwanghae Province, including the counties of Chongdan, Paechon and Yonan were damaged, with some reported casualties. Source. The news follows a headline on June 22, which expressed anticipation for poor harvests this summer, citing “little snowmelt and rainfall in recent months”. Source

WorldVeg screening of RDA Korea pumpkins in Thailand: A project of the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) to collect and evaluate cucurbitaceous germplasm continues to look for and to identify multiple virus resistance in pumpkin and thus enrich the cucurbitaceous germplasm collections of the Rural Development Administration (RDA), Korea. THe project, which started 15 September 2020 will conclude 14 October 2023. Under this project, WorldVeg will annually screen 30 pumpkin accessions from RDA Korea against multiple viruses in the field in Kamphaeng Saen, Thailand. Resistance will be fixed following the pedigree method of selection. Source.

Seed law compliance urged for forest seed distribution: July 17: In the past 11 years since the introduction of a forest seed import requirement confirmation system in Korea, the amount of shiitake seed imports has increased 7.3 times (7442 tons in 2011 → 54,124 tons in 2021). Furthermore, regarding the distribution of forest seeds, it was reported that the number of reports of production, import and sale of varieties reached 3,491 by the end of 2021. In order to prevent damage caused by illegal distribution of forest seeds, the National Forest Varieties Management Center, which oversees a forestry seed policing system in accordance with the Seed Industry Act, continues to conduct investigations of distribution activities, ensuring forest seeds are being produced and distributed in accordance with the Seed Industry Act, specifically with regard to  'Registration of Seed Business (Article 37 of the Act)', 'Report on Production and Import Sales of Varieties (Article 38 of the Act)', and 'Indication of quality of distributed seeds ( Article 43). Distributing forest seeds without complying with legal procedures may result in criminal and administrative penalties, including up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to 10 million won. Source.

Seedling training in Gyeongsan: July 12: To develop Gyeongsan’s seedling industry, training is being held for farmers and seed and seedling company managers operating in the Jongmyo Special Zone, which commenced at the Seedling Technology Development Center as part of a 30-hour program that began on July 11 and will conclude on August 10. Source.

Seed market inspections in Jeju: July 3: Authorities carried out on-site inspections at traditional markets, seeking to stamp out illegal seed practices in the Jeju region as part of efforts to enforce the seed and seedling law and thus  “prevent damage” to farmers and seed companies. Inspections focused on compliance matters extending to seedling business registration, reporting of production, import, and variety sales activities, as well as price and labeling requirements. Source.

Ancient seeds unearthed at Gyeongju excavation: June 28: Scientists excavating ruins of the ancient Wolseong palace at the UNESCO-listed Gyeongju Historic Area, have discovered ancient seed and pollen samples in the sedimentary layer of a moat surrounding the palace, which are believed to be from about 1,600 years ago. An analysis revealed some 70 kinds of plant seeds, including prickly lotus flowers, cereals such as rice, barley, wheat, and beans, and fruits such as peaches and plums. The site has been the subject of excavations since 2014. Source

Q2 news

‘Red Shine’ new succulent variety: May 30: The Cactus Succulents Research Institute at the Gyeonggi Agricultural Research and Development Institute announced that it has developed a new variety of the crown of thorns plant (Euphorbia milii) for Korea. The  'Red Shine' variety is a succulent that can be grown indoors year round. The crown of thorns is a succulent plant originating from Madagascar and is referred in Korean as the giraffe plant. Source and here.

Planting in Gangwon province affected by dryness: May 27: Although the farming season has arrived, farmers in Gangwon-do are increasingly worried as damage to field crops and rice farming has spread throughout Gangwon-do due to sustained drought conditions. According to the National Drought Information Portal, the average monthly accumulated precipitation in Gangwon over the past year was 897.2 mm, which is 33.8% of the annual average of 1375.6 mm. May is a critical month for rain to replenish spring-planted crops. Source.

Pyeongchang county seed project: May 19: Officials in Pyeongchang-gun plan to carry out a seed industry foundation support project to establish a base for the efficient propagation and distribution of excellent seeds and seedlings for food, horticulture, and special crops to farmers next year. The project will be carried out with a minimum of 300 million won, up to a maximum of 5 billion won – 30% will be sourced from the national budget, 30% locally and 40% from subscription fees from participating seed business companies and contracted farmer groups. It will cover support facilities and equipment necessary for seed and seedling production and quality control, such testing and inoculation equipment. Project applications will be accepted from September to October after a demand survey is conducted. Source and here.

Endangered plants, seeds exhibition: May 6: A photo exhibition of seeds of endangered and endangered plants from the Korean Peninsula was held at the At the Hantaek Botanical Garden in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do earlier in May. Featuring electron microscope photographs, the exhibition theme was 'Falling in the beauty of native seeds of Baekdudaegan.' This exhibition was part of touring exhibition hosted by Baekdu-daegan Global Seed Vault of the National Baekdu-daegan Arboretum, which permanently preserves wild plant seeds around the world. Hantaek Botanical Garden prepared this exhibition to promote the beauty and preciousness of seeds.The seed and pollen of 24 taxa of endangered and endangered plants endemic to the Korean Peninsula, such as plentifolia, algae, and ragweed, were magnified up to 300,000 times. Source.

Gyeonggi Suwon Seed Library: May 5: A seed library that lends seeds of various native plants to locals who return crops and seeds they produce. Various kinds of seeds produced in Korea are loaned out as if borrowing a book from the library. Residents can borrow 3 types of seeds at a time and voluntarily return the seeds you have grown and harvested at weekend farms or vegetable gardens. The total number of native seeds in the seed library is about 7,500, and about 20 kinds of seeds are loaned out. Source

Nongwoo Bio’s path to ISTA Accreditation: As reported in a writeup, titled “A Great Leap Toward Laboratory Aims” by June-woo Lee, Nongwoobio Technical Manager and Sampler, getting accredited by ISTA in October 2021 was a great accomplishment. When “ ISTA notified us that we finally  got our scope of accreditation . . . the laboratory members rejoiced  about the result and congratulated each other for the hard work involved. ISTA accreditation of Nongwoobio Seed Testing Laboratory (KR03) holds great significance for the company, as it: represents “our first independent accreditation from an international association (ISTA).; makes a mark on the seed industry for our country by showing confidence and reliability to provide high quality seeds; [indicates that] The level of staff, equipment, technology, etc., of the laboratory is enough to carry out seed testing according to international criteria; As the laboratory can now issue ISTA Certificates, time and expenses are saved in seed quality certification procedures; and is an opportunity to make a step toward becoming a global leading seed company in South Korea.” Download, read original report in PDF below.


Q1 news

Native seed production promoted: March 24: Incheon Upcycle Eco Center, an environmental education facility is promoting the cultivation of native crops, including the history of native crops, characteristics, and cultivation methods together with eco-friendly farming methods. Visitors can learn about the entire process from sowing, cultivation and harvesting of various native crops such as Gueok cabbage, cheongbang cabbage, crab daikon, white carrot, and purple pea. Read original story in Korean

Suwon City opens 'Green Curtain seed sharing campaign': March 25: Suwon City has been encouraging residents to grow seeds of plants such as morning glory, black peony, loofah, and celadon gourd by giving away free seeds under its Green Curtain project, which the city started in 2018. The aim of the project is install nets and ropes so that the plants grow on the nets and ropes to cover the exterior walls. Buildings with green curtains can save energy as the indoor temperature in summer is lower than that of general buildings. In addition, the broad leaves of the creeper absorb dust, reducing the concentration of fine dust around the building. Original story in Korean here

Native seed conservation gaining support: March 14: Researchers have pointed out that approximately 55,000 native seeds are being preserved by government agencies, which is only about a quarter of the total registered genetic resources of the National Agricultural Genetic Resource Center of the Rural Development Administration. However, the movement to protect native seeds is gaining momentum, especially at the local government level amid concerns over seed sovereignty. In 2021, Yangpyeong County set up an 'Indigenous Resources Team' to foster indigenous resources. Read original story in Korean

Seed localization highlights: February 18: More than 46% of mini paprika seeds were localized, according to a report, citing the Gyeongnam Provincial Agricultural Research and Development Institute of Korea, which credits the result to the GSP (Golden Seed Project) and research conducted by the Gyeongnam Agricultural Research and Development Institute since 2013. The news report also mentions localization of strawberry varieties in Seolhyang, which currently accounts for 85% of strawberry cultivation in Korea, as well as bean sprouts,. See original story in Korean here

2021 News


Q4 News

Korean NPPO removes 34 pests, adds 17 to quarantine pest lists. December 9: The Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (APQA) of Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) has amended the country’s quarantine pest list by removing 34 pests and adding 17. The amendment, which was announced through a notification circulated by the World Trade Organization’s Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (G/SPS/N/KOR/212/Add.17), is based on the result of a Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) and in accordance with the provisions of Articles 4 and 6 of the Ministerial Ordinance of the Plant Protection Act. The 17 new quarantine pests include two  genera and 15 species. The comment period for the amendment is set to conclude 7 February, 2022. Click here for notification, and for list of 17 new pests here, and 34 removed pests here.

Microscope seed photography expo: December 16: A special exhibition for electron microscope seed photography will be held at the Jeju Technopark until February 4, next year. Opened since Decmeber 15, 2021, the exhibition features photographs taken of 'Baekdudaegan's native seeds’ which are being preserved at the Seed Vault of the National Baekdudaegan Arboretum. Hosted by the Korea Forest Service and the National Baekdudaegan Arboretum Seed Vault Operation Center, and 10 forest and seed-related organizations from across the country, the exhibition is set up on the 1st floor of the JTP Biodiversity Research Center, located in Namwon-eup, Seogwipo-si. Featured seeds are magnified by up to 300,000 times using scanning electron microscope (SEM). Click here for more details in Korean language

Korea seed industry comes to life online: Held from October 6 to November 2, the 2021 Korea Seed Expo attracted wide international interest and generated seed business leads and deals to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Due to the persisting pandemic situation, the expo was held in a virtual format for the second consecutive year, enabling participants from throughout the world to learn about the latest innovations and products from the Korean seed industry from the comfort of their homes and offices. In addition to showcasing the latest offerings of leading Korean seed companies, institutions and related service providers from both the private and public sectors, the virtual expo actively engaged participants through its main attraction, which was the panorama virtual reality element, enabling participants to explore, examine and compare particulars of some 454 varieties of 30 crop species that were featured in both open-field and glasshouse plots spread throughout the 11+ hectare K-Seed Valley, located at Korea’s Seed Industry Promotion Center, just outside of Gimje City in Jeollabuk-do Province. In addition, other virtual elements featured included the Story Town, Seed Agency Town and Company Town, where participants could learn about and engage with a total of 93 Korean seed industry organizations, including 80 seed companies, and 13 seed agencies and institutions. It was indeed a shining example of how a virtual exhibition for the international community should be organized.The four-week expo attracted a total of 240,261 visitors online, and as of closing day, more than 123 export consultations, and a total KRW 63.5 billion (US$53.7 million) in contracts had been confirmed. According to recent data shared by organizers, Korean seed companies and institutes produce about 1,600 tonnes of various types of sowing seeds every year, including about 200 t in Korea, and the rest at bases abroad. The 2022 Korea Seed Expo is planned in the fourth quarter, coinciding with autumn harvest, and with any luck organizers hope it to be an in-person and virtual hybrid format. Stand by for updates, and for inquiries, please contact organizers through www.koreaseedexpo.com

Nongwoo Bio gets ISTA Accreditation for vegetable seed tests: The International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) on October 22 announced and congratulated Nongwoo Bio Co.as the latest accredited seed laboratory member in South Korea. The  scope of accreditation, which is valid between October 8, 2021 to July 11, 2024, covers sampling (vegetables); purity and identification of other seeds (vegetables) and germination (vegetables). See full details of the accreditation scope here and more about Nong Woo Bio here

Q3 News

Feed corn tender for December delivery: September 24: The Korea Feed Association (KFA) in South Korea  has purchased about 60,000 tonnes of animal feed corn through the trading house Olam. The grain, which was purchased for approximately $329.90 a tonne, not including a $1.75 a tonne surcharge for additional port unloading, is expected to ship in December. See original story here1. 

Stockpiling major food crops: September 16:  In order to address food security concerns, the Korean government has announced plans to increase public reserves of major crops including rice, and to implement a "consumption deadline labeling system" from 2030. According to an article in the Korean Times, some of the world's largest wheat producing countries had imposed export restrictions from March to June 2020, prompting Korea to start to increase its stockpiles of major food crops such as rice, wheat and beans. 

Korea to secure 350k tons of rice reserves: September 15: The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) has announced plans to procure 350,000 tonnes of rice in 2021. The purchased grain will be kept in reserve initially. According to the plan, 240,000 tons of packaged rice, in addition to 100,000 tons of pre-dried rice will be purchased within the end of this year, including through the 'ASEAN+3 Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) scheme' in association with ASEAN countries, South Korea, China and Japan. Full details here.

K-seed production: Aug 15: Sales of varieties grown from domestically produced seeds are on the rise according to E-Mart, a leading Korean retailer. Sales of domestic onion varieties have increased by 500% in the last 3 years, and domestic cabbage increasing 400% in a similar period. However, food crops grown from imported seeds still dominate the market with 80-85% from imported Japanese seeds in the case of onions and cabbage. To help regain "seed sovereignty", the Golden Seed Project (GSP) was launched in 2013 by the government in cooperation with seed companies and the distribution industry. As a result of the project, there has been a rapid increase in sales of domestic varieties. New domestic varieties of cabbage, sweet potatoes, and paprika are also being exported to India, Russia, Mexico, Japan, and China.  The development of domestic seeds is also accelerating with applications by Korean breeders for variety protection increasing by 15% between 2018 and 2020. Original story here and here 

Seed law violation updates: Aug 3: In a recent audit by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Affairs of 1,204 businesses involved in the handling of seeds and seedlings, 30 businesses were found to be in violation of the Seed Industry Act. Of these, 19 businesses were prosecuted facing up to 1-year imprisonment or fines up to USD 9,000. The remaining 11 businesses were issued fines between USD 90 to USD 900. Violations included the sale of potato seed without seed guarantee, sales of fruit tree seedlings without seed registration, and the sale of seeds without declaring the production or import of varieties. Original story in Japanese here 

Korea’s seed vault: Jun 1: Buried 46 meters underneath a mountain in South Korea, the Baekdudaegan National Arboretum Seed Vault Centre preserves nearly 100,000 seeds from just under 5,000 wild plant species. Mostly from the Korean peninsula although more are being added from around the world. The facility is designed to withstand both manmade and natural disasters including a 6.9 magnitude earthquake or even a nuclear explosion. The seed vault is one of only two such facilities in the world, the other being the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. Seeds are kept at -20 degrees Celsius and 40% humidity. According to a report by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, wild plants may play a vital role in future medicines, fuels, and food yet 40% face the threat of extinction due to habitat destruction and climate change. Original story here

Amendment to deregulate ‘low risk LMOs’

Korean regulators will accept comments until August 15, 2021 on a draft partial amendment of the Transboundary Movement, etc. of Living Modified Organisms Act . The proposed amendments, announced in May by the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and revealed through an official notification to the World Trade Organization, cover several important provisions concerning the approval process for certain gene-edited organisms and microorganisms, and which are covered in a 30-page document in Korean here.

The current Act (official English translation here) which was promulgated in 2001 and last amended in 2017, defines “living organism” as “any biological entity capable of transferring or replicating genetic material (including sterile organisms, viruses, and viroids)”, and "living modified organism" or LMO as “any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of each of the following modern biotechnology: (a) Techniques that artificially recombine genes or directly inject nucleic acids comprising a gene into cells or organelles, and (b)Techniques that are the fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family.”

According to the aforementioned WTO Notification, the main context of the amendments are as follows:

 1. Through the introduction of the Preliminary Review System, low-risk LMOs in which foreign gene has not been introduced to the final product shall be exempted from risk review and approval on the import, production and contained use;

2. Under the current law, LMOs (including animals, plants, and microorganisms) that have introduced drug-resistant genes must obtain the approval when they are imported and developed. In the amendment, the scope of approval has been reduced from living organisms to living microorganisms;

3. The provision on the establishment and operation of confined filed trial areas was created and the confined field trial areas shall be separately managed from research facilities to unify the management system.

It was reported in Korean media that some civic and scientific groups had raised concerns about definitions with respect to new breeding techniques. At a public hearing held earlier this month at the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Jung-gu, Seoul, it was clarified that only non-transgenic gene-edited organisms would be exempted to the preliminary risk-review system as they were considered low-risk, but transgenic organisms would still be subject to the risk review process. 

Q2 News

Poppies from ‘floating seeds’ seized: May 27: The Boryeong Coast Guard recently sized poppy plants from 20 rural villages in Boryeong  (South Chungcheong Province) where locals were allegedly cultivating them for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. It was reported that the seeds may have brought in by winds. According to local regulations, charges were not pressed in cases in which cultivation did not exceed 50 weeks; nonetheless, the coast guard said that a total of 410 poppy stems would be seized and confiscated. Original news here

New ag center with seed library opened in south Seoul: May 26: The 'Ganggamchan Urban Agricultural Center', an urban agricultural complex, which includes greenhouse complex spanning ​​905 square meters. Located in the Bongcheon-dongdivision, the new two-story complex was constructed between May of last year and January this year with a budget of 2.5 billion won ($2.24 million). Its features include a handicap-accessible garden, seed library, an exhibition greenhouse, experience and education rooms, plant growing machine, vertical garden and exhibition halls. The Seed Library exhibits some 250 types of seeds, including food, horticulture, and medicinal crops, inspired on the historical farming book from Geumcheon country called 'Geumyang Japrok'. A loan-exchange system is planned. Full details in Korean here.

KORES sends ‘Hope Seed Package’ to N Korean defectors: May 25: A delegation from the Korea Mineral Resources Corporation (KORES), led by its President, Hwang Gyu-yeon, delivered a ‘package of hope’ to North Korean defectors living in the southern Gangwon region. Distributed to 30 vulnerable households through the Gangwon Southern Hana Center, the ‘Hope Seed Package’ consted 240 kg of miscellaneous grains and seeds worth 3 million won ($2,700) and 60 blankets. News in Korean here

Kenaf planting community: May 18: Community groups of the Myodo-dong division of Yeocheon city recently got together to sow kenaf seeds on 600 square meter plot of land as part of a climate action activity. Kenaf, which is adapted to the local environment, can grow rapidly, year round, and is said to be a strong carbon sequestration plant that can help reduce air pollution. See original story here

White glutinous rice barley project: May 18: Gunsan City Agricultural Technology Center announced plans to secure 300 tons of seeds for high quality white glutinous rice barley as part of a special seed production pilot project being carried out at its Chaejongpo complex. These high-quality seeds are planned to be sown on 2,000 ha. See full details in Korean and here.

Nongwoo presents annual scholarships: May 17: Leading Korean seed company, Nongwoo Bio, led by CEO Dong-seop Park, held a scholarship conferment ceremony at Seoul National University's College of Agriculture and Life Science. For the purpose of fostering future agricultural talents,  Nongwoo Bio has contributed 10 million won (US$9,000) every year since 2017 towards scholarship fund at Seoul National University, with two new graduate students selected as recipients every year. See Korean news here 

Free sesame seeds hoped to spark cultivation interest: May 11 With the aim of stimulating interest amongst farmers and ordinary residents to grow sesame,  Paju City announced a campaign to distribute 20 kg of high-quality seeds produced last year at the Pyeonghwa Farm, which was built around 6, Geogok-ri village of Jangdan-myeon township. Farmers are allocated 12kg of these “Ansan” sesame seeds while the general public will be allocated 8kg (50 grams per person), all free of charge. The city is hoping to spark interest in growing traditional Korean medicinal crops. See original story in Korean here

Gyeonggi ‘native seeds’ collection and conservation: May 9: Efforts are underway in Gyeonggi Province to collect and preserve native seeds for the purpose of cultivating and marketing native crops. A private company has been selected to work with the National Seed Library Council to collect the seeds in four cities this year: Goyang, Ansan, Osan, and Icheon. The effort is part of a larger objective to identify and collect at least 100 native seeds per region for keeping at the Gyeonggi Indigenous Seed Bank, and in response to an “extinction crisis” blamed on “the aging and urbanization of rural farms in the province”. Since 2012, the province has collected 3,000 indigenous seeds through seed management centers and private organizations. Excluding the amount stored by private organizations, about 1,600 are currently being stored and multiplied by indigenous seed banks. See original story in Korean

Korean NPPO to use ePhytos for trade with US, Sri Lanka and other countries: 14 April: A workshop concerning the development of the IPPC (International Plant Protection Commission) ePhyto Solution in the Republic of Korea was recently held. The workshop, organized by Representatives of the Korea’s National Plant Protection OrganizationKorea’s Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (APQA) -- along with the ePhyto Industry Advisory Group (IAG) and the IPPC Secretariat. APQA announced that, starting in May it intends to exchange electronic phytosanitary certificates (ePhytos) for all commodities with the US, and will gradually in the coming months extend implementation with a number of countries, with Generic ePhyto National System (GeNS) countries, including Uganda, Sri Lanka and Guatemala. Read more details on the IPPC website here

FACT to increase summer crop seed production: April 13: The Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization and Transfer (FACT) has announced plans to increase seed production for summer crops distributed in 2021 by 39% compared to the previous year. Specifically, there are 72 varieties in 11 target crops, including rice, beans, red beans, mung beans, perilla seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, millet, sorghum, millet, and corn for feed, with a target output of 2,146 tons. See more details in Korean here

Q1 News

(FACT) KOREA SEED EXPO 2021, Announcement of Recruitment of Participating Companies - March 29 ~ April 16 : The Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization and Transfer (FACT) is recruiting seed companies to participate in KOREA SEED EXPO 2021, which will be held at K-Seed Valley and Seed Industry Promotion Center near Gimje City from October 6 to November 2. Due to the prolonged COVID-19 situation, the Expo will be held in an online format, allowing international companies to meet with reps from Korean seed companies through interactive virtual exhibition booths.  More details in Korean here, and in English via the event webpage here

Chungbuk illegal seed survey: March 25: The National Seed Resources Chungbuk Branch has conducted a seed distribution survey for the first half of the year concerning 11 cities and counties in the Chungbuk region. With an aim of curbing the distribution of illegal seeds, seedlings, and fruit tree seedlings for the spring farming season, the seed distribution survey tracks the distribution status and channel of producers and sellers of seed potatoes, fruit tree seedlings and vegetable seeds, in addition to seed companies, nursery companies, and other entities that sell seeds and seedlings. The survey specifically looks at whether the target entities are registered, whether varieties are reported for production, import and sale, and whether the quality of seeds or seedlings is labeled. Illegal producers and sellers will be subject to fines, prosecution and other appropriate penalties. See Korean news here

(FACT) KOREA SEED EXPO 2021, announcement of recruitment of exhibition varieties  -  March 15: The Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization and Transfer (FACT) has made a call-out for the recruitment (accession) of excellent varieties to grow and display at the KOREA SEED EXPO 2021 , which will be held at the K-Seed Valley and Seed Industry Promotion Center, near Gimje city, from October 6 to Nov 2. The EXPO will be held online due to the prolonged COVID-19, and the Demonstration Field will be available through Panorama VR.  More details in Korean here.

Botanical wild seeds preservation at seed vault: Feb 24: Seocheon County Agricultural Technology Center is actively trying to secure superior seeds by supporting seed germination rate tests for farmers in Seocheon County ahead of the farming season in order to increase yields and crop quality. The Seocheon County Agricultural Technology Center provides free germination rate tests for farmers in the county, with results returned within 7 days. Read original story in Korean here

Tax exemption proposed for seeds used in animal feed production: Feb 24: A proposal to exempt the VAT on the seeds for the production of animal fodder, which has been subject to taxation, is being proposed. The revised bill aims to reduce the financial burden on farmers producing feed and prevent unnecessary administrative waste by applying tax exemption to imported seeds for animal feed production. Currently, seeds of plants that are used for both food and animal feed such as rye, oats, and corn are exempt from VAT. However, seeds used only for feed, such as Italian ryegrass, are subject to tax. Although farmers are able to claim a refund on the VAT of taxed seeds, this creates an unnecessary financial burden for farmers and administrative waste for tax authorities. Read original story in Korean here 

Korean listed seed companies strong performance: Feb 23: The value of two APSA Korean members who are publicly listed in Korea have seen strong stock market demand. According to a February 23 report, Nongwoo Bio’s stock value rose by 6.18% and Asia Seed grew by 4.48%. See original Korean report here

Forest seed inspections coming: February 22: The Korea Forest Service National Forest Variety Management Center this coming spring seedling planting season, will conduct inspections at major domestic seedling markets. The aim of the inspections are to ensure compliance with requirements for production, import and distribution of forest seeds pursuant to Article 45 (1) of the Seed Industry Act. Inspections will also look into mushroom spawns (including spawn inoculation medium) and online distributors. According to Korean media, the National Forest Variety Management Center has conducted a total of 39 seed distribution investigations/investigations in 20 years and has recorded 18 cases of non-compliance, which resulted in eight warnings, two fines and eight judicial rulings. More details of inspections here, as well as here

Dong-Oh links up with Nunhems: Feb 21: Dong Oh Seed is linking up multinational agri-chemical company, BASF’s vegetable seed arm, Nunhems to launch new products in the Korean market. The companies recently signed an agreement to jointly develop global seeds for various crops. In the mean time, Dong Oh will exclusively supply popular watermelon varieties of Nunhems. More details in Korean here. 

FACT’s seed treatment center: Feb15: The Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization and Transfer (FACT) seed treatment in Andong, Gyeongbuk has opened the way for seed producers to grow and sell quality seeds in a stable manner. The facility includes quality testing, screening and chemical treatment functions, as well as sorting by size, weight and color. Previously, the process to distribute new varieties to farmers might have taken five years has made it possible to cut this down to two years. More details in Korean here

Godangok No. 1 Offers Potential for Domestic Corn: Feb 22: Goesan County signed a commercial license agreement with the Rural Development Administration for the protection of the state-owned variety of Godangok No. 1. Developed jointly by the Rural Development Administration and Goesan County, Godangok No. 1 is planned to be released commercially in 2022 after a two year trial that started in 2020. Godangok No. 1 has an appealing taste and high sugar content, and is able to compete with imported corn varieties with a competitive seed price. Original story in Korean here

Nearly one-third of cultivars found to be the same variety under a different name: February 19: DNA testing found 27% of 625 varieties, including 125 out of 399 pepper varieties tested, were actually the same cultivar. As a result 42 companies voluntarily withdrew 363 varieties. The protection of intellectual property and cracking down of infringement and illegal distributors has become an increasingly urgent issue in the seed industry. With millions of dollars spent on R&D, the current low penalties are not enough of a deterrent, according to a seed company official.  Original story in Koren here and here.

Nurturing specialists in the seed industry: Feb 17: The National Seed Resources plans to expand the number of its courses for professionals in the seed industry. The courses will target seed industry workers and public officials as well as high school and university students with courses related to breeding technology, seeding technology, seed marketing, and seed quality testing. They will also hold training courses aimed at developing countries in Asia in order to cultivate future human resources for the next generation of professionals in the seed industry. The curriculum for 2021 will be announced on the National Seed Resources website (https://www.seed.go.kr). Original story in Korean here 

Private companies to support native soybean research and conservation: Feb 17: Professor Gyuhwa Chung of Chonnam National University stated in a recent interview that a number of domestic and regional soybean companies have offered to support his research and conservation efforts. With a collection of 7,000 wild and native soybean seeds from remote islands and mountain regions, one of the most vital facilities for Prof. Chung's research is the soybean seed storage facility. Optimal temperature for storage of soybean seeds is about 4 degrees at 30% humidity. However, recent technical issues at the current storage facility have resulted in high temperatures and humidity. The injection of funds will create a new storage facility as well as increase the planting capacity from 300 to 1,000-1500 soybean seeds each year. Original story in Korean here 

Gaui-do Island garlic seeds draw praise for quality: Feb16: Gaui-do Island in Taean County of South Chungcheongnam Provice is attracting a lot of attention for its garlic seeds. Gaui-do cultivates about 10,000 seeds of garlic every year in an area of ​​43,000 square meters but supply is insufficient to meet demand. The island has an ideal climate and high levels of phosphoric acid (P2O2), calcium, and potassium components in the soil, which are very important for cultivation of garlic seedlings. Taean County plans to expand the production of high-quality garlic by increasing production of garlic seeds from Gaui-do. In 2020, 4,726 farms in Taean County produced 11,752 tons of garlic in an area of ​​911 hectares, generating 49 million USD. Original story in Korean here 

176 tonnes of govt rice seeds to be supplied: Feb16: Haman County in South Gyeongsang Province will supply 176 tons of rice seed to improve the quality of rice in the area. Government-supplied rice seeds have been tested for quality, have higher germination rates, and are more resistant to disease than self-cultivated seeds. Original article in Korean here 

Pepper seeds in Eumseong: Feb 16: Eumseong County Agricultural Technology Center announced that it will start sowing pepper seeds from the 16th to the 27th of February in order to supply the pepper seedlings that were applied for in December last year. A total of 750,000 stocks of 5 varieties will be planted, a 17% increase compared to the previous year. The seedlings will be supplied to over 960 local farmers from mid-April. Original article in Korean here 

Apply for bean seeds announcement: Feb 4: The National Seed Resources in South Chungcheong Province will receive applications for 120 tons of government-supplied soybean and red bean varieties until March 19th. Seeds will be supplied to farmers through local agricultural cooperatives from April 1st to May 10th. Original article in Korean here

Seoul Botanical Gardens donates seeds to Global Seed Vault: Feb 4: The Seoul Botanical Garden, which opened in 2019, announced that it will donate some 500 plant seeds of rater and endangered species owned to the Global Seed Vault of the Baekdudaegan National Arboretum. The Baekdudaegan Global Seed Vault was established in 2015 to preserve plant genetic resources for future generations and be able to withstand natural disasters and even nuclear explosions. Baekdudaegan is the world's first permanent storage facility for wild plant seeds. Read original article in Korean here 

Rural Development Administration distributes seeds of 33 medicinal varieties: Jan 24: A department of the Rural Development Administration announced that this year, 33 medicinal crop seeds will be distributed through the Agricultural Technology Institutes of each province. Supplied seeds include turmeric, sikbangpung, guritdae, deodeok, bellflower, donggulle, hemp, maekmundong, banha, and baechohyang. Read original article in Korean here

New seed education center to provide practical industry training: January 2021:
A new International Seed Life Education Center has been established to cultivate seed industry experts in the seed industry. Thus far, practical training has been provided for 653 people through 20 courses, and will be expanded to an additional 1,096 students. The education center curriculum is mainly aimed at workers in the seed industry and rearing business, high school students and college students related to agricultural life, and public officials related to seeds. Curriculum covers processing, seed testing, seed export, fruit tree seedling production, experimental equipment utilization, and future generation expert courses. The Education Center’s courses fo 2021 will be announced on its website by the end of January. Read more in Korean here

Advancing seed sample image analysis technology: January 2021:
A new seed resource development program that utilizes the latest in image analysis technology being utilized the Gimcheon National Seed Resources, Gyeongbuk showing promise to significantly reduce the time needed to analyze seed sample characteristics. Typically, the process of collecting, examining, arranging, categorizing and logging 10 samples took researchers an average of 376 minutes per cultivar. Now, thanks to the improved, Seed Resources program utilizing the latest in image analysis technology -- in collaboration with the Korea Institute of Electronics Engineers -- this can be reduced by 30-50%. Read full details in Korean language here. 

Native seeds of Hongcheon for Women: January 2021:
The National Federation of Women Farmers' Association, Gangwon Province has published the Indigenous Seeds of Hongcheon' book, which documents native seeds and traditions collected from various places in Hongcheon since 2018. The book uses local words to preserve the characteristics of the Hongcheon area, and records the method of farming native seeds in a way that Hongcheon female farmers plant. More in Korean here

FACT Korea to distribute 2021 crop seeds: January 2021:
The Eumseong-gun Agricultural Technology Center has announced that it will receive applications (to acquire) 2020 field crop seeds, including 26 cultivars of nine crop species, which will be distributed through the Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization and Transfer, Korea. Crops include soybeans, white beans,, black soybeans, red beans, Cho, Susu, Gijang, sesame, perilla and peanut. Farmers wishing to apply have until February 5. More details in Korean here

Yangpyeong County promotes native seeds: January 2021:
The head of Yangpyeong-gun in Gyeonggi Province is promoting the preservation and use of native seeds as “essential for the health of the people." Since 2018, the first year of his inauguration, Gunsu Jung has been working with the private sector and the Rural Development Administration to engage farmers all over Yangpyeong, and collect seeds of dozens of species, including rice, potatoes, wheat, and others. Read more in Korean here

Gonju willow rice farmer has seed stories: January 2021:
Hwang Jin-woong, a farmer in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province, is a native seed conservitive who has been recording the stories contained in the seeds. From his efforts a type of “Willow rice” native to Gongju, was registered as a World Food Cultural Heritage in 2019. The farmer Hwang has been farming for 9 years in Bongmyeong-ri, Gyeryong-myeon, Gongju. Willow rice is the oldest cultivar of native rice remaining on the Korean Peninsula. It has been cultivated in parts of Chungcheong-do, such as Gongju, Dangjin, and Okcheon since the Neolithic period. In addition to cultivating native crops, he is also working on discovering, collecting, and promoting native seeds, having discovered 51 kinds of native seeds in Gongju this past year. Story in Korean here.

2020 News


Asia Seed reveals new Corporate Identity logo: December 2020:
APSA member, Asia Seed recently held a contest to design its new logo, and replace its old one, which had been in use for over 20 years. According to this report, more than 221 entries were received through the contest held in November. Employees voted on six nominations, and finally one was selected. An official from Asia Seed was quoted as saying [translation], “The new Corporate Identity inherits the history and tradition of the existing logo, and at the same time embodies the tradition of Korean seeds and the will to innovate for the future.”


Industrial, medical hemp Special Zone interview: December 2020:
Details about Korea’s promising 'Gyeongbuk Industrial Hemp Regulatory Free Zone', were highlighted in an interview with Andong Vice Mayor, Park Seong-soo, who played a decisive role in its establishment and approval. According to the vice-mayor’s projections, the project, which drew investment capital of 45 billion won, would yield “production induction effect of 63.5 billion won, a value-added effect of 25.4 billion won, and an employment inducement effect of 2,719 people."


Disease-resistant varieties address labor-shortages, farmer needs: December 2020:
This comprehensive article in Korean highlights a number of challenges the Korean agriculture sector has been facing, as well as listing several promising new, disease-resistant varieties of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes that have been developed and launched by Korean companies, including APSA member, Nongwoo Bio, to help farmers cope with challenges of increased pest and disease and reduced labor. 


High Quality rice seeds secured for 2021 planting: December 2020:
Quality rice seed for 2021 planting has been secured for farmers. The National Seed Resources announced that  a total of 15,063 tonnes of 29 varieties would be planted in early 2021. This includes 14,023 tons of 26 varieties of rice paddy, and 1,040 tons of 3 varieties of sticky rice. According to a report, the breakdown of seed supply by province is as follows: 851 tons of 8 varieties for Gangwon; 753 tons of 8 varieties for Chungbuk; 3,050 tons of 8 varieties for Chungnam; 2,256 tons of 8 varieties for Jeonbuk; 2,568 tons of 11 varieties for Jeonnam; 2,377 tons of 6 varieties for Gyeongbuk; 1,572 tons of 15 varieties for Gyeonggi Province and 1,636 tons of 9 varieties in Gyeonggi Province. In related news, in Taean county (Taean-gun) in the province of South Chungcheong Province (Chungcheongnam-do), officials said they have secured seed supply that will be distributed through an Agricultural Technology Center 'seed bank'. The seeds include 119 tons of eight varieties. More details in Korean here. Also , officials in Gokseong County (Gokseong-gun) in South Jeolla Province, there was a meeting on 10 December to discuss supplies of high-quality rice seeds for cultivation in 2021. The county has reportedly procured seeds of high-purity and distributed them to leading farmers to produce seeds, with the amount of rice produced this year cited to be about 30 tons. Also, in a video news report here, it was revealed that of the rice varieties grown in the Chungbuk region, 25% are still foreign varieties imported from Japan. However, by 2023, most of the rice varieties grown in the Chungbuk region will be converted to domestic varieties.


Yangpyeong govt links up with local farm for native rice seed expansion: December 2020: Yangpyeong-gun, a county in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea has signed a business agreement with Woobo Farm Co., Ltd. (CEO Lee Geun-i) for the expansion of native rice seeds.  According to this Korean media report, the agreement “is part of the creation of a Yangpyeong-gun native resource cluster to foster and disseminate disappearing native resources and develop them into future industries. Specialization with Ubo Farm, an agricultural company that has preserved and supplied native rice seeds in the private sector for over 20 years. It was promoted for technology sharing and joint testing and research projects.” The signatories agreed to cooperate in joint test research and sharing of expertise for the conservation and distribution of native rice genetic resources, donation of native rice seeds and cooperation in operation of rapeseeds, as well as in events, publicity, and education for the use of native rice. 


Preserving native Korean seeds at Svalbard Vault and at home:
December 2020: An article in Korean language highlights efforts to preserve native Korean seeds through deposits of tens of thousands of samples at the so called ‘doomsday vault’ in Svalbard, Norway, as well as at Korean seed banks, where many tens of thousands of seed and plant resources of both domestic and wild cultivars are being safe kept. In related news, the the Rural Development Administration revealed statistics that underline Korea as owning the 5th largest collection of  genetic resources (behind US, China, Japan and India), which by July 1, had amounted to more than 328,290 registrations (translation), including 263,960 vegetables. 

Investigation of illegal seed potato suppliers: AUGUST 2020:
An investigation to prevent the distribution of non-compliant potato seeds and seedlings (seedlings) was carried out in Iksan, Wanju, Gunsan, Gimje, Buan, Jeonbuk, and Nonsan, Buyeo, and Seocheon in Chungnam. According to this article, as well as this article, under the Seed Industry Act, seed potatoes must be registered as a seed business and sold under a seed guarantee, so it is illegal to sell unguaranteed seed potatoes or sell edible potatoes as seeds. A person who does not register a seed business, sells a variety without reporting on the production or import sale, or sells or distributes unguaranteed seed potatoes is subject to imprisonment for not more than one year or a fine of not more than 10 million won.

Bolstering NK potato production with superior seeds: December 2020:
North Korean authorities are switching out older generation researchers for new ones to push forward the country’s “seed revolution,” Daily NK news source reports that in order to address food security, the country is bolstering domestic production of grains, and has since 2018, been highlighting the need for a “seed revolution” among the country’s potato farmers. According to the report, “Seeds that have been deemed superior in quality are being supplied to farms after having gone through two or three years of test cultivation. Read original article here



Crack down on illegal and low-quality seeds

Authorities have announced plans to probe the distribution and selling of illegal and sub-quality seeds ahead of the peak season of seed distribution. Investigations, which will cover the Busan, Ulsan, and Gyeongnam regions, will focus on vegetable seeds (cabbage, radish, green onion, green onion) as well as seedlings, spices (garlic, ginger) and are planned to be carried out through November 30. It will center on seeds, seedling companies and vendors that produce, import and sell seeds, including through online retail channels, such as blogs and e-shops, examining compliance with registration, reporting, labeling and testing requirements in accordance with the seed industry laws and regulations. More details in Korean here. In related news on August 4 here, the Korea Seed and Variety Service (KSVS) in Chungnam province will conduct a seed distribution survey to monitor the distribution of illegal or counterfeit seeds and seedlings in the city Asan and other jurisdictions during the coming peak season for seed and seedling distribution. As announced here, the survey will cover compliance with rules for registration, production, import and sales of varieties, including labelling. 

Amendment to Korea Seed Industry Act to Strengthen Quality Control for Fruit Varieties 

July 30: The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has initiated the legislative process to amend Korea’s Seed Industry Act. The period for gathering public comments on the new amendments will last 40 days, from July 31 to September 9. Amendments cover system improvements included in measures to develop the fruit tree seedling industry, as initiated in July last year. The main contents of the amendment are as follows.

First, in response to consumer demand for high-quality seeds, a quality certification system will be introduced, emphasizing quality control systems and traceability. In order to professionally and more efficiently detect pest and viral infections of seeds and seedlings, the scope of testing, which had been overseen by Korea Forest Service and the Korea Seed & Variety Service (KSVS), will be extended to a dedicated seed testing agency designated by the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Systems will be implemented to track seed production and the management of seed companies that have received quality certification, extending to the distribution status of certified seeds and seedlings.

Secondly, in order to systematically manage the production and distribution situation of foreign varieties introduced into Korea, seed importers will be required to report detailed information about the imported varieties during the customs clearance process. Specific reporting requirements will be determined and announced by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs.

Third will be a requirement for seed (quality control/assurance) managers to undergo regular professional training through a designated human resources and training institution. The requirement will mandate that any person who fails to meet quality assurance requirements stipulated for the seeds or seedlings will be subject to taking mandatory education course(s) on the seed system, which will vary depending on the severity and number of violations.

Finally, stricter penalties will be imposed on seed or seedling businesses (personnel) who violate requirements for reporting and displaying correct information regarding the distribution of seeds and seedlings. False reporting, or fake (or counterfeit) labeling of quality, for example, may result in the suspension of operations, while violations such as unregistered workers carry imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of up to 20 million won.

False reporting or fake (or counterfeit) labeling of quality, for example, may result in the suspension of operations, while violations for unregistered workers may carry a fine of up to 20 million won (US$16,870) and/or imprisonment of up to two years.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture expects to complete the legislative process within the year, which could see the amendments ratified by next year.

For more information, contact the KSVS via their website, and see the following links for Korean news: 





KSVS accepting applications for cereal seed distribution

July 30: The Korea Seed and Variety Service (KSVS) Jeonbuk support unit is accepting applications for the distribution of cereal seeds. Applications can be made through Jeonbuk Regional Agricultural Technology Center locations in towns, townships and neighborhoods ( Eup, Myeon and Dong) until August 27, 2020. There is a quota of many hundreds of tons of seeds, including several varieties of wheat and different types of barley and rye. KSVS is also offering seed cleaning and processing services in August. The seeds should be available for distribution to farmers through local agricultural cooperatives from September 11 to October 12. News in Korean here. In related news, this August 4 article highlights some doubts and potential shortfalls in wheat seed supply targets, concerning the government’s recently announced plans to increase self-sufficiency. 

Korea’s ‘largest coffee plantation’ 

Aug 2: Although there are no definite statistics for Korea’s coffee industry there are about 50 to 60 active coffee plantations in Korea. According to this article, most of them are experimental farms, operating on a small scale. However, there is one commercial-scale coffee plantation in Hwasun-gun, Jeonnam worth noting. With a total area of 5500 pyeong (about 1.8 hectare), the Dubay Coffee Farm is said to be the largest in Korea. The Arabica coffee grown here is native to the African highlands of Ethiopia. To ensure the coffee can thrive, the owner of the plantation has implemented an innovative mist cooling system that is more economical than air-conditioning. There are currently 22,000 coffee plants grown here. 

Seeds produced at military complex inspected for quality

July 22: Hongcheon Country, together with the National Institute of Natural Resources Gangwon and the Corn Research Center of the Provincial Agricultural Research Institute conducted inspections of seed packages for signs of mold and pests as part of quality control measures. As reported here, the seeds were produced with backing from the military at a 211-hectare complex, and include seven varieties of 4 crops: rice, soybeans, red beans, and corn. More than 900 tonnes of high-quality seeds are expected to be produced and distributed to local farmers. 

31 soybean varieties at Paju Festival demonstration

July 23: Some 31 varieties of soybean were exhibited and demonstrated as part of a smart farm demonstration as part of the Paju Jangdan Soybean Festival, held at Papyeong-myeon in Paju City. News here.

Increasing corn seed production in Gangwon

Aug4: The planned production of corn seeds at complexes in Yeongwol, Gangwon Province, was slated to be about  187 tons, which would help bolster farm household income. The production of seed in the complex includes contributions from the Corn Research Institute of Gangwon-do Agricultural Research Center and the Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization (FACT) with the seed corn complexes located in  Jucheon-myeon, Mureungdo-myeon and Korean Peninsula. More details here.

Forest Seed Collection Update

The National Forest Variety Management Center of the Korea Forest Service announced that it will commence its annual seed collection activities starting from the end of August. This year's seed harvesting started about a week later than the previous year due to a prolonged rainy season, and it is expected to be finish around early December. According to the results of the National Forest Variety Management Center's predicted production of seeds from natural sources, the total production of forest seeds this year is estimated to be around 6-7 tons. More details in Korean here

N Korea leader visits farms to mitigate typhoon losses

Typhoon Bavi has caused only minimal damage to North Korea, according to this article, citing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The typhoon made landfall in the Korean peninsula on August 27. Mr Kim visited South Hwanghae province, southwest of Pyongyang as part of efforts to mitigate potential crop damage and casualties from the typhoon.   



Seed library, seed display and IoT hydroponic at Yangcheon park

The Yangcheon Urban Agricultural Park, operated by the Yangcheon district in Cheoul, has installed a seed display box and is establishing a seed library. The seed display box was installed in the internal education center to allow visitors to see 200 seeds that were donated from the Rural Development Administration and the Seoul Agricultural Technology Center.In addition, the city is running a seed library that lends out seeds and urban agriculture related books to residents. Residents can then later return new seeds they collected from the seeds in order to maintain and grow the collection and thus “restore genetic diversity of plants, as well as to introduce a variety of plant species through continuous seed supply and simply regain healthy food.” Smart technology is also incorporated into urban agriculture at the park, which features indoor plant hydroponic cultivation integrated with IoT (Internet of Things) in the classroom portion of the Education Center. More details in Korean here.

Baekdudaegan Native Seed Exhibition

The Baekdu-daegan Native Seeds Exhibition was held at the Gangwon-do Forest Museum from July 10 to 26, organized by the Gangwon-do Forest Research Institute. The exhibition promoted the preservation of seeds in Korea, with works contributed by the National Baekdu Daegan Arboretum. On display were images and samples of seeds and pollen of plants native to Baekdu-daegan, photographed with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) . News here.

Korea’s Gangwon seed potato, technology secured for Central Asia 

Kangwon Provincial Agricultural Technology Institute (CEO Choi Jong-tae) signed a win-win cooperation agreement with Hongik Bio Co., Ltd. (representative Seo Sang-gi) to advance to Central Asia on June 30. The agreement was prepared to secure the supply of Gangwon seed potato and to exchange technology and information in Central Asia countries of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Kangwon Provincial Agricultural Research Service and Hongik Bio Co., Ltd. agreed to cooperate with each other to promote a successful market settlement by revitalizing technical and human exchanges to supply seeds and export stable seeds for the export of Gangwon potatoes to Central Asia. The five-year-old potato was awarded ‘best’ at the Korean Potatoes Fair held by the National Species Resource in 2018, and local trials were successful. News in Korean here.

 School students plant ‘native seeds’ in North Jeolla

Gochang Seongnae Elementary School in Gochang, Jeollabuk-do was selected as a resident proposal project for the 2020 school year for a project to plant ‘Korean native seeds’ around school gardens and fences to promote Korean biodiversity and ecological awareness in the community. Students planted various types of plants, including red and black maize varieties, and red beans. Korean news here.

Nonghyup Bank and Korean Women Farmers unite in seed harvest 

Employees of the Nonghyup Bank, Ulleung County Branch joined members of the Korean Women’s Farmers Federation of Ulleung Federation recently took part in garlic seed  harvesting activity in the Nari Village, Buk-myeon, Ulleung-gun. A representative of the NH Nonghyup Ulleung-gun Branch said, “I hope that it will be a chance to share the difficulties of the rural areas by helping farmers who have insufficient hands, ease the concerns of farmers, and appreciate the importance of agriculture, thanks to farmers, and rural communities. “We will continue to work with the farmers to help the farmers who can actually help the farmers.” News here.

Citbank CSR promotes reforestation 

Citibank Korea recently celebrated its 15 years anniversary and conducted a CSR activity that rallied community members, employees and customers to germinate acorn seeds for replanting in local forests. News here

Summer quality warnings for watermelon growers.

The Jeonbuk Agricultural Research Institute has warned farmers growing watermelon to take special care and attention to their crops citing potential quality issues linked to the rainy season and summer heat wave. According to the National Institute of Agriculture, on the same day, watermelon covered with dark purple color around the seeds, emits an unpleasant odor, and when the cell is softly changed, tapping the watermelon makes a ‘plump’ sound. Production is concentrated around mid- to late July in Gochang, Buan, and Jinan, the representative regions of Noji watermelon in the province.It was advised to cover fruits and vegetables to reduce overheating or to install a shading net (35%) at the facility house and harvest in a timely manner before damage occurs. News in Korean here.

Migrant farm workers in shortage, high demand  

This feature story carried by the LA Times highlights the interesting story of Thai migrant workers toiling in a tobacco field for an 11-hour summer day of work. 

MAY 2020

Nongwoo Bio CEO Q&A

The CEO of leading Korean seed company, Nongwoo Bio, Lee Byeonggak was featured in a Korean language interview published by the Maekyung Media Group. In the Q&A, he answers questions about his company, R&D, strategy, goals, as well as the situation with Korean and international seed business, including insights on Covid-19 and North Korea situation. 

RDA lettuce breeding development

The Rural Development Administration (RDA) has revealed progress and approaches with R&D for domestic lettuce varieties. An article by Korean language Amnews highlights various types of varieties in focus, covering targeted trait categories and parameters, including shelf-life, leaf-weight, nutrient-content, color, flower and vegetative periods. 

Year-round barley microgreen sprout production 

The Jeheon-si Agricultural Technology Center, in North Chungcheong Province, is reporting success with trials for barley microgreens. As reported in Korean language news, the microgreens were sprouted in new 396㎡ facility, which was designed for year-round production. Microgreens, which have a short seed to harvest cycle of between seven to ten days are a rich source of nutrients. 

Fruit tree seedling plant disease prevention, surveillance measures

Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has issued a management plan aiming to bolster prevention of inspection of epidemiological plant diseases at fruit tree seedling production sites. Proposed is to conduct joint inspections with local government agencies up to four times a year, as reported in Korean here. 

Cereal seeds production stable in Gyeongnam

Inspections of cereal seed production sites have been carried out by the Gyeongnam Provincial Agricultural Research Service Administration announced. The inspections, carried out on 13ha of wheat seed production fields, focus on plant and grain health, especially the prevalence of pests and diseases. According to the Korean article, this year there are trargets to produce 18,630kg of wheat seeds;  15,400kg of large grained barley as well as thousands of kg of other types of barley and cereals.  

New oat, barley varieties for feed crops

The Gyeongju-si Agricultural Technology Center will distribute seeds of new, locally developed, feed-purposed oat and and green barley. The varieties were bred by the Rural Development Administration and the National Institute of Food Science and Technology to promote resilience and self-sufficiency of domestic agriculture, reports Dakyung News

Sweet potato variety improvement trials in Jeonbuk

The Jeonbuk Provincial Agricultural Research Institute has teamed up with the Rural Development Administration in Jinan County of North Jeolla or Jeonbuk Province to improve varieties and produce high-quality seeds of domestically grown sweet potatoes. Focusing on taste and yields, trials had been carried out between March to early May, focusing on several promising varieties. Finally, one particular variety shows the most promise, due to its apparent to certain pests, productivity and suitability for early cultivation, reports cm.asiae.

RDA issues soya seed sowing season guidelines 

The Rural Development Administration (RDA) has issued a number of guidelines to Korean cultivators of soybean in anticipation for the Korean soya seed sowing season, which is during the month of June. The guidelines, published here in Korean, cover everything from variety selection to identifying and preparing healthy, pest- and disease-free seeds, weather and location consideration in order to ensure optimal yields. 

Online course for seedling, nursery workers

The Plant Breeding Research Institute of Wonkwang University recently successfully conducted an online lecture to provide practical curriculum on raising seedlings. The two-day virtual training session was organized in response to Covid19 isolation measures, and was attended by a total of 124 students who registered to attend, including national nursery workers and trainees. The curriculum consisted of eight units covering seedling growth, grafting technology, physiological abnormalities, fertilization and pest prevention, and advanced environmental control technology. Participants were issued a completion certificate. More details here

Genetic resources to bolster domestic wheat self-sufficiency

The Rural Development Administration (RDA) through the Agricultural Genetic Resource Center is continuing to evaluate wheat genetic resources to identify high potential breeding material that could be used to develop new domestic wheat varieties as part of efforts to improve self-sufficiency of staple grains. According to figures cited in the report, the self-sufficiency rate for wheat in Korea in 2018 was only 1.2%, while the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has an objective to improve this to about 10% by 2022. To meet the target, the some 2,500 resources from 80 countries have been collected and preserved, including  wild and domesticated species. More details here. 

Tissue culture mass sapling propagation of larch trees

The National Forest Breeding Management Center, in cooperation with the National Forest Science Institute will mass-produce larch saplings from tissue culture seedlet samples, which will be distributed through the national nursery office. Larch is a coniferous tree of the genus Larix, and is an important symbolic species of Korea that grows fast and thus preferred as an excellent source of lumbe; however, its seeding cycles are not stable, and fruiting is also reported to be irregular. The center plans to produce and supply a total of 30,000 tissue culture seedlings by the end of August, with more seedlets to be supplied to state-owned nursery businesses and planted in national forests through to 2022. More details all Joongdo in Korean here.

APRIL 2020

Corn, sorghum sowing update in Jeonnam

The president of the Jeonnam Provincial Agricultural Research Service has sought to commence planting of key summer crops such as corn and sorghum. As reported by Wikitree Korea news,  the most suitable time for planting corn is in early and mid-April, and delays in sowing risk a shortened growing season, which would ultimately have adverse affects on yields. In addition, sorghum requires a higher temperature compared with corn, so it is suitable for planting of the crop inJeonnam to commence in mid-April to early May.

Evidence of 1,600 year old seed trade

The National Gyeongju Cultural Heritage Research Institute (translation) is analyzing milenea-old artifacts unearthed from excavations of the Wolseong Moat in Gyeongju carried out between 2016 and 2019. Among them are what is believed to be dozens of seed specimens dated to the 5th century. Among them are castor seeds, which measure about 9 mm long by 7 mm wide. Castor is not native to the Korean Peninsula, but is known for its origins in Asia and Africa, including India. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the seeds were imported. 

Seoul City community garden sown

A community garden project in Seoul has allocated 6,940 sections in 15 farms, mostly around ‘paldang’ lake, as well as in Goyang City and Gwangmyeong City. The sections were designated to urban gardeners between February 3 and March 20, and gardeners on April 11 came to plant vegetable seeds and seedlings in their respective sections. See more info in Korean here.

Urban garden seeds delivered via drive-by

To minimize risk associated with face-to-face interactions, chicory and lettuce seeds were distributed to urban garden farmers via a drive-by distribution system. The distribution of seeds, carried out in early April, is part of an urban garden project in Uijeongbu city of Gyeonggi Province. More details here and here.

Gyeonggi seed bank update

Nongmin.com in Korean language provides an update on the “Native Seed Bank” opened last November in Donggori, Godeok-myeon, Pyeongtaek-si of Gyeonggi Province. Quoting an interview with the bank’s director, the article notes that there are some 800 native seed specimens are being conserved after being collected from various areas in the province. The seed bank is equipped with a seed storage room spanning 140㎡ with cold storage controlled as low as minus 20 ℃. 

Chungnam Cooperative supplying farmers with subsidized pepper seedlings

A cooperative in Chungnam Province is facilitating the increasing incomes of pepper growers through the supply of pepper seedlings, with cultivation and harvesting information and guidance support. The Cooperative is reportedly raising 150,000 pepper seedlings at its nursery this year, which it sells to farmers at a rate of 150 won per seedling, which is cheaper than the market price of between 250 to 300 won). Its supply has increased from 50,000 seedlings in 2018 to 75,000 in 2019, and now double this year.

Americans, Korean sow seeds on urban gardening day

To mark Urban Agriculture Day on April 11, a tradition which has been observed in Korea since 2015, the the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, joined with reps from the US Embassy to promote the joy of urban farming by making food and sharing food with agricultural products harvested from seeding by 40 Korean and American elementary school students. More details in Korean here.


MARCH 2020

Individual rice seed germination training 

The Hongcheon-gun Agricultural Technology Center replaced the rice seed germination annual meeting with individual training for 30 farmers in the hall from the 12th to the 13th for the stable farming practice. In order to prevent the spread of corona19, the rice seed germination festival was conducted as individual training, not as a collective training.

Spring flowers bloom bring up mood as rapeseed harvest nears

Gyeyang-gu, Incheon, is in full bloom of oilseed rape in a large-scale lush complex that is 10 times the size of a soccer stadium in 106-1 Seoseo-dong.  Rapeseed seeds were sown and managed in October of last year, and in April, it is expected to see the yellow color of rapeseed.

Korea seedsman interview on Covid resilience through seeds, news here

Seed more valuable than gold

Comprehensive review of Korea seed industry and quantitatively how/which seed is more valuable in weight than gold, including genetic resources, institutions, link here

Intensive Investigations on illegal seeds

Gyeonggi-do Special Police Corp. will conduct intensive investigations on domestic seed producers and importers, looking into the illegal distribution of seeds through seedlings and vegetable seeds sold via online shopping malls and blogs, as well as the sale of seeds that have passed their expiration date.. News in Korean language here.



KOSA gets new President, Board at 55th GAM

The Korean Seed Association on 30 January held its 55th General Assembly Meeting, in which a new president, 12 Board of Directors and two Advisors were elected. The new president is Jae-Bong Im, who is a member of the Standing Committee for Agriculture, Food, Rural Affairs, Oceans and Fisheries, the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea. The 12 Board of Directors members and two Advisors are as follows:




KOSA’s new president: IM, Jae-Bong



Board of Directors
Company name |  Representative Name

1 Areum Co., Ltd. Han, Seung Jin
2 Asia Seed Co.Ltd. Ryu, Kyung Oh
3 Farm Hannong Co., Ltd. Lee, You Jin
4 Korea Mikado Kyowa Seed Co. Ltd. Joo, Yong
5 Koregon Co., Ltd. Yang, Dong Hyun
6 NongHyup Seed Yoo, Chun Hoi
7 Nongwoo Bio Co., Ltd. Lee, byung kak
8 Pan Pacific Seed Park, Sang Gyeon
9 Sakata Korea Co., Ltd. Byun, Sang Ji
10 Samsung Seed Co., Ltd. Lee, Sung Yong
11 Taewoo Seed Co., Ltd. Cho, Hang Jin
12 The Kiban Choi, Gau seoul

Company name |  Representative Name
1 Good Seed Co., Ltd. An, Young Sik
2 Sun Seed Co., Ltd. Lee, Ju Sung


Seed ‘more precious than gold’

According to an article on Farm Insight Dot Net in Korean language to promote seed industry promotion initiatives, Korea has paid 140 billion won a year, totaling 14 billion won for crop seed royalties in the decade starting 2009 and ending 2018. The article cites examples of how a single seed can increase many hundreds of times in value along the integrated product chain, and outlines key industry projects and initiatives to bolster the Korean seed industry, such as the Golden Seed Project. Elaborating on the efforts of the project and similar initiatives to improve Korean seed varieties, researcher Byung-Ho Hwang provides insight on another recently published article

Taking molecular breeding to the next level

The Seoul National University Plant Molecular Breeding Division has developed a variety of projects aimed at laying the foundation for national source technology, commercializing biotechnology, building infrastructure, and supporting projects. Many of these projects, with a focus on varietal development and improvement of food crops such as vegetables and rice, are outlined in this recent Korean News Media article