Today October 11th marks exactly 100 days since Japan imposed unprecedented export controls on South Korea,... further eroding their already strained bilateral ties.
In the second installment of our special two-part series, our Eum Ji-young zooms in on how South Korean chip and display firms have responded to the crisis by localizing their suppliers.
In a bid to reduce their dependence on Japanese supplies, Korean chip and display makers have turned to domestically produced materials and are trying to diversify their suppliers worldwide.
"South Korea's switch to local suppliers had long been anticipated, amid Japan's export curbs on three key materials used for the production of chips and displays- namely photoresists, hydrogen fluoride and fluorinated polyimide."
According to an industry official, Korea's major semiconductor and display firms including Samsung Electronics and SK hynix are in the process of applying local substitutes of hydrogen fluoride in their product lines.
"After conducting multiple tests, we've started using locally-produced hydrogen fluoride in our factories to replace Japanese supplies."
Hydrogen fluoride is a critically important material in the chip and display industries. And according to the head of the semiconductor and display technology association in Korea, over 80 percent of hydrogen fluoride used in the country had been imported from Japan.
"After the curb, many domestic semiconductor and display firms have been striving to diversify their hydrogen fluoride suppliers, including those from the local market, China and Taiwan."
The expert added that semiconductors take longer to be produced than displays, meaning that the display industry is paving the way for the major change in suppliers.
"For the past 6 years, domestic companies like Soulbrain and Ramtechnology have been developing technologies to produce high-purity hydrogen fluoride. Domestic semiconductor and display makers were able apply these companies' products almost right away as they readily had the technologies.
The expert predicted that in case of hydrogen fluoride, complete localization would be possible by early next year.
Eum Ji-young Arirang news.