South Korea: When Is a Chemical Considered a Permitted Substance?

At the end of July, the South Korean Ministry of Environment (MoE) published the criteria (in Korean), that determine whether or not a chemical is a permitted substance. The criteria apply as of October 15 of this year. Companies that wish to manufacture, import, or use such chemicals that are harmful to human health must obtain approval in advance from the Ministry of Employment and Labor, as required by Article 19 of the Chemicals Control Act (CCA).

Any one of the following chemical properties determines classification as a permitted substance:

  • Carcinogenic, mutagenic, or reprotoxic (CMR) or endocrine-disrupting for humans or animals
  • Bioaccumulative and persistent
  • Toxic for specific organs upon human exposure

Additional criteria taken into account include:

  • The extent of the chemical’s use
  • The number of persons who come into contact with the chemical
  • Existing national and international regulations

The term “permitted substance” was introduced in 2015 as part of K-REACH, but the list has so far remained empty. Some 600 Priority Control Substances are now to be examined.

We have worked with our partners in South Korea for years. We can handle the preregistration and registration of chemicals and maintain the marketability of your products. If you import products into South Korea, please contact us at

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