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KCS seeks lead in ‘smart customs’ with next-gen tech

The Korea Customs Service, the body in charge of clearing all goods that enter and leave South Korea, is out to become a leader in “smart customs” systems powered by next-generation technologies.

The KCS continues to improve its automated customs administration solution, UNI-PASS, which has so far been exported to 13 countries and is spreading Korea’s high-tech customs management know-how around the world, it said.

With UNI-PASS as its anchor, the customs service provider will work to establish a more sophisticated smart customs system that utilizes big data, blockchain and artificial intelligence as well as drone surveillance to improve customs risk management, cargo management and border control procedures.

In 2017, the KCS joined hands with the private sector to form a consortium dedicated to testing the application of blockchain technology to customs management. A pilot project wrapped up in 2018.

This year, the customs body will start formal technology development in three areas: blockchain-based export-import customs processes, AI-backed cargo X-ray identification and big data analytic solutions.

The KCS is working to build a customs and logistics platform that uses blockchain to pool data on worldwide logistics activities and integrate it into a single system. Blockchain is a decentralized ledger that can store data and share it in real time with all participants in a network.

With blockchain, the KCS said, all stakeholders in the customs process can share critical customs data in real time, enhancing both transparency and efficiency with regard to place of origin, commercial transactions and customs clearance.

The Korean customs facilitator is also looking to build an AI-based X-ray system that can accurately screen for prohibited cargo such as illegal drugs. The KCS’ image identification system, built on years of accumulated data on illegal cargo, is expected to reduce the risk of terrorism and prevent the import of prohibited items, it said.

Building an optimized big data analytics system is another major project for the KCS. The organization has set out to pool, standardize and analyze all the customs data in its possession, with the aim of enabling smarter cross-border customs procedures.

Based on the results, the KCS is planning to work with private companies to create various products that can bring new value to customs processes.

Looking ahead, the KCS aims to take the lead in bringing smarter customs technologies to other member countries of the World Customs Organization. Most importantly, it will expand its invitational training program, which has benefited some 3,471 foreign customs officials from 611 countries over the past 10 years.

The KCS will also create country-specific customs management training programs that help to impart new customs technologies and tailor them to fit the needs of different countries in consideration of the resources available to them. 

By Sohn Ji-young and Lee Kwon-hyoung
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Korea Herald daum