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South Korean Semiconductor Companies Advised to Focus on Device Investment
A Japanese Expert's View
South Korean Semiconductor Companies Advised to Focus on Device Investment
  • By Kim Eun-jin
  • November 12, 2019, 12:44
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A Japanese expert asserts that South Korean semiconductor companies need to focus more on next-generation memory chips and devices rather than material import replacement. 

Sangyo Times chief editor Izumiya Wataru said at a seminar on Nov. 11 that South Korean semiconductor companies need to focus more on next-generation memory chips and devices rather than material import replacement while maintaining their current value chain based on a win-win relationship with Japanese companies.

“Although South Korean semiconductor companies will be able to catch up with their Japanese counterparts’ technological strength, accumulated for more than a century, by 10 or 20 years of research and development, the companies are likely to miss their opportunities in the device industry in that case,” the semiconductor industry expert heading the daily newspaper said at the material industry seminar in Seoul hosted by the Korean Society of Semiconductor & Display Technology.

“Hydrogen fluoride is hard to come by, Japanese hydrogen fluoride cannot be replaced with those of China and Russia, which are much lower in purity, and it will take as long as three to five years for South Korean companies to combine their photoresists with their equipment even if they succeed in developing photoresists on their own,” he continued to say, adding, “This is why South Korean companies need to continue to invest in devices, which bring constant profits based on high added values.”

At present, China, which accounts for 60 percent of the global semiconductor demand, is planning to boost its self-sufficiency in the industry five-fold to 70 percent by 2025. In addition, Intel is going to start the mass production of 144-layer SSDs next year and TSMC is continuing to dominate the global foundry industry.

The chief editor remarked that these factors can shake the Northeast Asian value chain in the industry in which South Korea manufactures intermediate goods by using Japanese materials, components and equipment and the goods are turned into finished products in China.

“In this regard, South Korean companies need to keep working together with Japanese material suppliers, the second-largest investor behind their U.S. counterparts in the semiconductor industry of South Korea, while working on advanced memory chips and devices,” he went on to say, adding, “China’s plan is a significant threat to the overall South Korean economy led by semiconductor exports and thus South Korea and Japan need to work more closely with each other and the Japanese government should stop the restrictions right away.”