The New Excellent Product (NEP) certification is a program designed to evaluate newly developed products using innovative technology and certifies the nation’s top products in order to encourage technology development and help companies commercialize and market high-quality techno-centric products.
As Korea entered the 1970s, the nation began to invest heavily in heavy and chemical industries in order to boost its national industrial structure.
This effort paid off in the 1980s with remarkable growth in the machinery, automobile, shipbuilding, electronics, steel and petrochemical industries.
While this rapid growth greatly expanded the external economic scale of the nation, it also led to a rise in technology imports from industrialized nations around the world. As a result, a large part of the foreign exchange painstakingly earned through exports flowed out as royalty payments.
In order to alleviate this chronic pressure on the national trade balance and achieve technological independence, the government began exploring ways to localize capital goods including machines, parts and materials.
As a part of these efforts, the government discovered a new way of certifying new technology in order to assuage lingering distrust of Korean products and technologies.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (today’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy) spearheaded this program for certifying new products and technologies, followed by separate programs by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Information-Communication, Ministry of Construction and Transportation, and the Ministry of Environment.