South Korea

South Korea is represented in JPIAMR by the National Research Foundation of Korea and Sungkyunkwan University.

The National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea, organizing and funding basic and applied research projects on behalf of the Ministry of Science and ICT of the Korean government represents the nation in international scientific and policy initiatives such as the JPIAMR.

In Korea, several ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT), Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), and Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), are responsible for the policies and research on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by establishing the Government-wide One Health AMR Plan (multi-institutional collaborative project). The leading agency of the One Health AMR Plan in Korea is KDCA.

In 2016, principal ministries and agencies responsible for AMR put together the National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (2016-2020) and proposed the following goals:

  • Promote the prudent use of antimicrobial medicines
    • Enforce quality evaluation programs of antibiotic use in health care
    • Develop and distribute prescription guidelines on antibiotic use
    • Enhance appropriate antibiotic use in the animal sector
  • Prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance
    • Improve institutional policies regarding infection prevention and control
    • Enable timely determination of patients infected with resistant pathogens
  • Strengthen the surveillance system
    • Improve and support antimicrobial resistance surveillance in hospitals and on community levels
    • Improve surveillance of antibiotic consumption
    • Strengthen the surveillance system
  • Improve public awareness
  • Strengthen research and development
  • Enhance international collaboration

To pursue these goals, the One-Health concept is applied. The surveillance system has far reaching impacts; it involves agriculture and environment sectors. Antimicrobial reagents for animals, requiring veterinary prescription, are being expanded, and efforts are being made to understand the human-animal-environment connection of AMR. Information on new cases are shared not only among hospitals, but also among all involved stakeholders via a standing multi-agency network system. Korea is and will be encouraging cooperation on an international level. The nation is an active member of the World Health Organization-led effort known as the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System. Korea also partakes in building the data base for AMR in animals, organized by the OIE-World Organization for Animal Health. At the research front, various projects concerning the genomic characterization of resistant strains, development of a vaccine for resistant Staphylococcus strains and modernization of livestock and the poultry management system have been initiated by various government agencies.

NRF and MSIT aim to fill the void in strategic research and development and in promotion of international scientific cooperation. To this end, NRF has mapped out a research program in developing new ways to fight AMR. A total nearing 14 million euros, to be dispensed over a period of 6 years, has been committed to this research program. About half of the resources will be devoted to the understanding of basic mechanisms of AMR, including but not limited to the following topics: host-microbe and/or microbe-microbe interactions; expression and function of virulence factors; and novel genes and signal transduction systems. The other half will be used to support research for development of new antimicrobial reagents, the topics for which are as follows: the high-throughput screen, new class of active chemicals, and novel bio-agents such as antibodies and phages.

All projects led by independent investigators will be organized into a working network, which in turn will serve as the representative of NRF and MSIT in carrying out the membership role in JPIAMR. To facilitate this activity, the Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Therapeutics has been launched at Sungkyunkwan University (IAMRT-SKKU). This center will play a related yet an independent role distinct from that of the Infectious Disease Center within KCDC, or the AMR Center within the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, both of which are more focused on epidemiological issues. A key assignment for IAMRT-SKKU is conveying to and from international communities working on AMR about important research outputs and policy shifts. Another key assignment of the center will be bringing in all relevant research activities carried out by various ministries and agencies under one umbrella, subsequently leading to coordination not solely on a domestic level but on an international one.

National AMR research program and activities

AMR Research program

The One Health AMR research program conducts and supports researches to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent outbreaks by AMR bacteria that have evolved through circulation in the environment, people and animals. The research program includes three phases:

  • Phase 1, 2019-2023
    • Budget: Multi-ministerial, total 47(billion won), Ministry of Science and ICT 3.3(billion won).
    • Aim: To construct research infrastructures including soft and hard structures to pursue the onehealth AMR research which requires a collaborative and transdisciplinary approach.
  • Phase 2, 2024-2028:
    • Budget: planning to have budget similar as in phase 1.
    • Aim: To vitalize basic and translational researches by taking advantage of the collaborative and multisectoral research platforms that have been built during phase 1.
    • Sub aim 1: To develop therapeutic strategies using combinatorial treatment based on the collected data.
    • Sub aim 2: To develop novel diagnostic methods to identify AMR bacteria.
    • Sub aim 3: To strengthen collaborative researches and efforts among Asian countries and WHO GLASS.
  • Phase 3, 2029-2033
    • Budget: planning to have budget similar as in phase 1
    • Aim: To expand the breadth and depth of researches in all areas of the onehealth AMR and pursue further advancement of the onehealth AMR research.

National AMR research calls

  • Identification of the mechanism of antibiotic resistance and development of technology to suppress the occurrence of resistance: Four-year project (2020-2023), 3.5 billion Korean Won
  • Advancement of the international network for securing resources for high-rick infectious diseases: Five-year project (2020- 2024), 4.33 billion Korean Won
  • Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness: Two-year project (2020-2021), 0.45 billion Korean Won
  • Detection and prevention of animal infectious disease: supports the studies on the avian influenza and food and mouth disease (mechanism studies, developments of vaccine, disinfectant, and diagnostic tools).
  • GFID Call 2019: detection, prevention and surveillance studies of infectious disease at the national level
  • Information on the NRF-funded AMR research projects can be found at IAMRT-SKKU:

Activities on AMR actions at national level

  • The National Institute of Health (NIH), an affiliated institute of KDCA, has been designated as a “WHO Collaborating Centre for AMR Reference and One Health Research” in March, 2021. From 2021 to 2025, NIH-KDCA will participate in the WHO AMR Surveillance and Quality Assessment Collaborating Centres Network.

National action plans

  • The Korean national action plan on antimicrobial resistance (2016-2020)
  • The second Korean action plan (2021-2025) for containment of antimicrobial resistance is under preparation.

Read more:

Management Board representative

  • Kyeong Kyu Kim, Sungkyunkwan University
  • Min-Kyu Oh, National Research Foundation of Korea