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21 Key National Technologies Leaked over Past 6 Years
Technologies Leaked
21 Key National Technologies Leaked over Past 6 Years
  • By Michael Herh
  • September 2, 2017, 18:00
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21 government-designated core technologies have been leaked overseas over the last six years.
21 government-designated core technologies have been leaked overseas over the last six years.


It has been found that over the last six years, 21 government-designated core technologies including OLED (organic light emitting diode)-related technologies have been leaked overseas. It is pointed out that now that many of the leaked core technologies are technologies commercialized for the first time in the world with investments from the government or number-one technologies in the market, the government has to devise measures to cope with such technology leaks.

According to materials received by lawmaker Lee Chul-woo of the Liberty Korea Party from the National Intelligence Service, information and investigation authorities have detected 157 cases of technology leakages since 2012. Among them are 21 key national technologies whose protection was demanded by the government in accordance with the Industrial Technology Leak Prevention Act. A key national technology can have serious adverse effects on national security and the national economy if it is leaked overseas, which is the reason such technologies are designated by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy. The leaked key national technologies discovered by the government were nine in the shipbuilding industry, eight in the electrical and electronics fields such as a display technology, two in the plant industry, and one each in the automobile and medical care sectors. China took the largest number of leaked technologies, namely, 12 technologies, followed by the United States, Canada, Israel, Germany, India and Malaysia. All of them are Korea’ rivals in global technological competition.

A case in point is a leak of Korea's world-leading OLED cleaning technology to China in July.  As the center of the display market moves rapidly from LCDs (liquid crystal displays) to OLED, Chinese companies are closely trailing front-running Korean companies such as Samsung and LG, through large-scale investment. In this situation, a key national technology was leaked to China. OLED technologies were leaked to China in 2012 and 2016 as well. As you see, Korean government authorities have detected a total of eight leakage cases related to electricity and electronics such as display panel manufacturing technology and secondary battery manufacturing technology in addition to OLED technology in the past six years. Most of the eight technologies are Korea’s number one technologies in the world.

Nine cases of shipbuilding-related technology leaks came to light. Last July, a specialized shipbuilding technology commercialized by Korea for the first time fell into the wrong hands of Malaysia. In March and July of last year, a high value-added shipbuilding plan and LNG shipbuilding technical materials of the Korean shipbuilding industry enjoying the world's largest market share, were leaked to China. In addition, Korea’s world-leading cryogenic insulation technology was leaked to Germany in 2015. The source code of ship inspection program was handed over to the United States. In addition, offshore plant design technology was deliberately given to competitors such as Canada and India.

To prevent such situations, the Industrial Technology Leakage Prevention Law was enacted in June last year. According to this law, the head of a government agency that manages and maintains core national technologies should take necessary measures to lay the foundation for preventing leaks.

"The Ministry of SMEs and Startups are carrying out projects to support the establishment of security systems for companies that are vulnerable to the leakage of technology. However, due to budget shortages, only 141 (37%) of 379 companies received the support. The government needs to invest more in security systems to prevent the leakage of technology," lawmaker Lee Cheol-woo said, running down the government. "We must strengthen monitoring by information and investigation authorities as Korea’s competitors steal technologies by buying off related industry workers."