South Korea’s semiconductor industry has been in a state of instability due to China’s blatant challenge, with concerns that it is the end of the boom. According to industry sources, Chinese companies are in the so-called ‘Semiconductor boom’ by recruiting people from small but strong semiconductor companies in Korea.
Semics, the company that is placed third in the world in the field of wafer prober in the semiconductor equipment, recently received a merger offer from a Chinese company. The conditions of the merger are to build factories in China, buy equipment, and pay all costs for R&D from China.
However, even though a large number of companies offer similar suggestions, they are hesitant to say, “the condition of securing the Chinese market is attractive, but it can be taken away only a few years later.” Attempts to recruit workers in China are also becoming increasingly bold. Some engineers are said to have been offered five times more than their annual salary, including luxury villa and their children’s tuition.
Some semiconductor equipment companies are being asked by Chinese companies to supply their equipment to Samsung Electronics. In other words, it will take Samsung Electronics’ know-hows.
China, which is currently part of its semiconductor boom, plans to invest 1 trillion yuan (1.178 billion dollars) by 2025 to raise its semiconductor self-sufficiency rate from 13.5 percent in 2016 to 70 percent.
A bigger problem is that the technology and talent of Korea are being taken by the Chinese market. Experts point out that when technology and talent escape, the dominance of the memory semiconductor industry, which is almost the world’s top industry in Korea, can be lostin an instant. Some are raising suspicions that Samsung Electronics’ NAND flash technology may have already been leaked to China.
Currently, Samsung Electronics operates a large-scale NAND flash production plant in China, and SK Hynix operates a DRAM production facility.
“It is difficult to mention YMTC’s semiconductor related issues because they have yet been identified. There is no possibility of leakage of technology from NAND Flash factory in China,” said an official of Samsung Electronics.
However, it is not easy for Korean companies such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix to take measures in dealing with China’s omnidirectional pressure. This is because it is not sufficient to fundamentally prevent illegal activities such as the withdrawal of human resources from Chinese semiconductor companies and the takeover of technology.
“While we are making various efforts to prevent the outflow of hum resources while keeping a close look on the possibility of China’s advance into the semiconductor industry, the reality is that it is not that easy to respond to it,” said an official of a semiconductor company.