Standardization News

ASTM International Board of Directors Holds October Meetings in Seoul

Barbara Schindler



The world's second largest metropolitan area, a city of 25 million people, was the site of the 2014 fall meeting of the ASTM International board of directors. The meetings, as well as other events, took place there on October 19-22.


Holding its meeting in Seoul enabled the ASTM board to connect with members residing in South Korea and with representatives of industry sectors that use ASTM standards in that progressive nation. Seoul is the chief industrial center and capital city of South Korea, whose market economy ranks 15th in the world.


ASTM and South Korea

The Korean Agency for Technology and Standards oversees the development of Korean standards, coordinating input from public and private sector stakeholders through its technical committees. Today, in addition to more than 20,000 Korean Standards, other types of standards are accepted and used in Korea as well. ASTM standards are widely used by Korean companies. The Korean Standards Association is the official distributor of Korean Standards and ranks as one of the ten largest distributors of ASTM standards in the world. KSA also translates ASTM standards into Korean.


ASTM and South Korea have a strong partnership, and interest in the development of ASTM standards by Korean manufacturers and government officials continues to grow steadily. In 2006, KATS signed a memorandum of understanding with ASTM to promote cooperation and share resources. As of 2014, there were more than 150 Korean members participating on ASTM technical committees in areas as diverse as steel, textiles, medical devices and geosynthetics.


ASTM director Kaphong Choi, Ph.D., was instrumental in helping facilitate all aspects of the meeting. He is president of Korea Testing Certification, which enhances the safety and quality of electric and electronic products. Dr. Choi, a former chairman and CEO of KSA and administrator at KATS, is currently serving a three-year term on the ASTM board. His career in both government and the public sector spans more than 35 years.


Over the past decade, ASTM has hosted several experts from South Korea as part of formal cooperation programs such as the ASTM Standards Expert Program and Intensive Training Program, as well as long-term attachments and assignments. Currently, Jon Yoon Jun of KATS is on long-term assignment at ASTM headquarters.


Outreach Visits

In addition to the formal board sessions, board members and staff met with the leadership of trade associations and corporations from the various industry sectors in which ASTM standards are globally influential: metals, consumer products, chemicals, building construction, infrastructure, manufacturing and more. Some 20 separate outreach visits were conducted with representatives from industry and government, as well as with nongovernmental organizations and a university.


  • Agabang and Co.
  • Daechang
  • Daewoo Engineering and Construction
  • Defense Acquisition Program Administration
  • Defense Agency for Technology and Quality
  • Hyundai Engineering and Construction
  • International Copper Association
  • Korea Conformity Laboratories
  • Korea Expressway Corp.
  • Korea Institute of Industrial Technology
  • Korea Medical Devices Industrial Cooperative Association
  • Korea Medical Devices Industry Association
  • Korean Agency for Technology and Standards
  • Korean Iron and Steel Association
  • Korea Testing and Research Institute
  • Korea Testing Certification
  • Korea Testing Laboratory
  • Lotte World
  • LS Nikko
  • POSCO (formerly Pohang Iron and Steel Co.)
  • Seoul National University


In the News

While in Seoul, ASTM president James A. Thomas was interviewed by The Electronic Times, South Korea's largest provider of domestic and international news on IT business and policy. In the interview, published October 23, Thomas stressed the benefits of corporate involvement in standards development and compliance with international standards in conducting global business. He encouraged active participation in the standards process early on to reduce costs and cope with market changes.


ASTM President James A. Thomas is interviewed in Korea by reporter Ho Jun Lee of The Electronic Times.


CEO Breakfast Meeting

At the invitation of KSA, ASTM participated in the KSA breakfast meeting, an event held monthly since 1988 in which KSA brings together the CEOs of enterprises of all sizes, as well as the heads of state-owned companies. A total of 308 leaders from a variety of fields attended the October breakfast meeting, the 318th such event.


KSA president Baek Soo-Hyun made the opening remarks and showed a video that KSA prepared for the Korean observation of World Standards Day, which is commemorated around the world in October to bring awareness to the positive role of standardization. ASTM Chairman of the Board Thomas Schwartz and ASTM President James A. Thomas were the featured speakers for the event. A lively question and answer session followed the formal speeches.


ASTM Chairman of the Board Thomas A. Schwartz of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger presents at the KSA October breakfast meeting in Seoul.


Standards and Medical Device Regulation Roundtable

Another event was a roundtable gathering attended by more than 20 industry leaders in the field of medical devices. It provided a high level overview of private sector standards for medical device regulation from the point of view of regulators and manufacturers from both Korea and North America.


The regulators' perspective was given by ASTM board member Cmdr. Scott Colburn, director, standards program, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Devices and Radiological Health. He described ASTM as a tool for regulatory agencies to work with in lieu of writing their own standards, reducing regulatory burden. Colburn pointed out that government agency personnel participating on ASTM technical committees have the ability to make a global impact. "The value proposition is great," said Colburn.


Jang Yong Choi, deputy director, Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, covered medical device regulation in Korea. The Korean medical device industry was valued at $5.1 billion in 2013, the year that the Korea Food and Drug Administration was elevated to agency status in the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. Currently, the Korean government is putting resources into high-end medical equipment.


The manufacturers' experience was presented by ASTM board member Charles Sidebottom, P.E., partner, PPO Standards, a consulting group specializing in medical technology standards. Sidebottom is also producer vice-chairman of ASTM Committee F04 on Medical and Surgical Materials and Devices, which has jurisdiction over more than 300 ASTM standards used globally. "Private-sector consensus standards provide a pathway to market for new, innovative medical technology globally. They satisfy regulatory requirements," Sidebottom said.


An overview of medical device standards and testing in Korea was relayed by Ki-il Nam, principal researcher at KTC's Medical Device Center, a leader in electric and electronic medical device testing. KTC uses ASTM performance tests for spinal implant materials, bone screws and sterile barrier systems for medical devices. Korea's domestic medical device industry, while advanced, is import-dependent and made up primarily of small businesses.


ASTM board member Cmdr. Scott Colburn, director with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was a featured speaker at the Standards and Medical Device Regulation Roundtable.


Industry Workshop

A half-day industry workshop on Tuesday afternoon was arranged in cooperation with KATS, KSA, the Korea Testing and Research Institute, KTC and Korea Conformity Laboratories. Following an introductory session with welcoming remarks by James A. Thomas and Kaphong Choi, a plenary session included an overview of ASTM International and its role in South Korea. Two breakout sessions followed, covering regulation and standards related to the environment and sustainable building construction.


Sustainable construction presenter Ki Hyun Kim, Ph.D., principal researcher, Daewoo Engineering and Construction, gave examples of a zero energy house project, Zener Heim, in Korea.


New KATS Headquarters Building

Following the board meetings in Seoul, ASTM was the first foreign delegation to visit the recently relocated KATS headquarters in Chungbuk Innovation City. Shown in the lobby area of the new facility are, from left: Geewon Chung, Ph.D, director, KATS International Standards Division; Jong Il Anh, Ph.D., director general, KATS Standards Policy Bureau; James A. Thomas, ASTM president; Katharine Morgan, ASTM vice president of technical committee operations; and Teresa Cendrowska, ASTM vice president of global cooperation.


Barbara Schindler is ASTM's director of corporate communications.



View presentations from the events held during the ASTM board meetings.

Learn more about the official meetings of the board.


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