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South Korea bets big on semiconductors

South Korean President Moon Jae-in

Frank Smith
Press TV, Seoul

South Korea is betting big on semiconductors, with the country’s tech giants investing billions of dollars in new plants and the government providing tax breaks. South Korean President Moon Jae-in celebrated construction of new facilities last week.

This year, a shortage of semiconductors caused production delays and suspensions worldwide. Even South Korea’s major car manufacturers Hyundai and Kia had to shut down periodically for lack of the key component.

Samsung is South Korea’s largest company and number-one semiconductor producer. But its de facto chief, Lee Jae-yong, is in jail, creating a degree of uncertainty amid the massive investment plans.

Samsung’s Lee Jae-yong is scheduled to complete his 2/5-year prison term in July 2022 for bribing South Korea’s previous president. But calls are growing from many sectors — including almost two thirds of the general public, according to a recent survey — for Lee to receive a presidential pardon considering his company’s importance to South Korea’s economy.

Samsung is also reportedly planning to construct another US plant with a $17-billion investment. President Moon this week visits the US, as American officials seek to reduce tech dependence on China.

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