South Korean government join forces with corporations, aiming to create 'South Korea's Nvidia'

Jessica Tsai, Taipei; Jack Wu, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: AFP

With the US, China, and Japan all actively developing semiconductors, the pressure is starting to build for South Korea. In response, the South Korean government is strengthening its collaboration with major corporations by setting up hotlines, forming special teams, and aiming to create South Korea's own "Nvidia." Participants include Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, and other supply chain members.

According to reports by Aju Business Daily and Newsis, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), Ahn Duk-geun, met with executives from several South Korean semiconductor corporations to address the impact of the intensified global semiconductor market and discuss relevant policies.

Minister Ahn, along with several CEOs of South Korean semiconductor companies, has decided to establish a hotline to tackle challenges like AI semiconductors.

Notable participants for the meeting include the president of Samsung's Device Solutions (DS) division Kye Hyun-kyung, SK Hynix president/CEO Kwak Noh-jung, Wonik IPS president Ahn Tae-hyuk, co-CEO photoresist maker Dongjin Semichem Lee Chun-hyuk, SoulBrain holdings CEO Chung Hyun-suk, and more.

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) recently announced the desire to "revitalize Japan's semiconductor industry," with the subsidies (JPY1.2 trillion) to TSMC's Kumamoto fab a part of this plan. Similarly, the US government also provides subsidies to US semiconductor companies for new equipment investment.

To nurture companies and talents in materials, components, equipment, and IC design, South Korea plans to provide policy funds of KRW24 trillion (approx. US$18.03 billion). The government and the private sector will also jointly establish a verification facility for these funds.

To enhance its IC design competitiveness, an IC design verification center will be set up in 2024, and the Semiconductor Industry Association plans to establish an AI semiconductor cooperation forum. The "IC Design Cultivation Program" is also scheduled for launch in the first half of 2024, aiming to create a South Korean version of Nvidia.

South Korean corporations that participated in the meeting have committed to collaborating with the government to work towards the goal of investing KRW60 trillion in semiconductors and achieving US$120 billion in exports by 2024. As for the government, it plans to shorten the construction time of the Yongin Semiconductor Industrial Park, expedite approvals, and expand corporate investment incentives. MOTIE will also establish a dedicated task force to promote the industrial park.

The South Korean government has expressed that, to swiftly provide power to the Yongin Semiconductor Industrial Park, it plans to sign an MOU with the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), the Korea Land & Housing Corporation (LH), and other demand companies on February 27, 2024.