On 23 November 2022, the UK announced it’s first (post-Brexit) data adequacy decision for the Republic of Korea. This decision builds on the 5 July 2002 Memorandum of Understanding, which was a data adequacy agreement in principle. During the last few months, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has undertaken and completed its full assessment of the Republic of Korea’s personal data legislation. The conclusion reached is that “the Republic of Korea has strong privacy laws in place which will protect data transfers to South Korea while upholding the rights and protections of UK citizens.

The statutory instrument giving effect to the UK’s adequacy decision was laid before Parliament and is coming into force on 19 December 2022. This means from this date UK organisations will be able to transfer personal data securely to the Republic of Korea without restrictions, i.e. no need for any standard contractual clauses, binding corporate rules or any of the other Chapter V UK GDPR mechanisms.

The key difference between the UK’s adequacy decision and that of the EU is the UK’s deal is broader in scope, for example UK organisations will be able to “share personal data related to credit information with the Republic of Korea to help identify customers and verify payments”. The idea is that being able to share this type of data will help UK organisations with a presence in the Republic of Korea to “boost credit, lending, investment and insurance operations in the Republic of Korea”. Overall, it is expected this decision will help to generate an estimated £14.8 million annually in business savings and increased exports – made up of £11 million savings in administrative and financial burdens and £3.8 million in increased exports to South Korea.

This adequacy decision is the first of the UK’s priortised data partnerships. The UK continues to negotiate with Australia, Colombia, Dubai IFC, Singapore and of course the USA (where progress has been made in the form of the UK-US Joint Statement published on 7 October 2022 (see our article here)). It is clear there is plenty of activity in the sphere of international data transfers so watch this space!