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[MONEYTODAY] 23.06.28 The bitter words of a scholar with thick bones in industry and academia...


Park Young-joon, professor emeritus of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Seoul National University, is one of the top scholars in semiconductors in Korea. He lectured on semiconductors and electromagnetics for 30 years at Seoul National University, and worked hard on semiconductor development while working at IBM, LG, and Hynix Semiconductor (predecessor of SK Hynix). In the meantime, he has received many adjectives, such as 'Technical person you want to emulate', 'Seoul National University Best Teacher Award' and 'Excellent College of Engineering Professor Award'. In 2000, even when rumors about the sale of Hynix circulated, he led an opposition movement along with professors.





Professor Park, who founded a semiconductor company and is still in the field, says that now is the biggest crisis for Korean semiconductors.Korea has several leading companies, including Samsung Electronics, the No. 1 memory semiconductor company, but it is diagnosed that it is in trouble due to a lack of market coping ability. Avoidance of the semiconductor industry and lack of government support are also obstacles. On the 22nd, at the office in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, Professor Park heard why he is concerned about the current semiconductor crisis.


Professor Park cites three main reasons why Korean semiconductors are facing a crisis. The first is the perception that the 'law of moor' is coming to an end. Moore's law is that the amount of data that can be stored on a microchip doubles every 18 months. Until now, semiconductors have focused on increasing their competitiveness by making them smaller than existing products. However, as semiconductor miniaturization reached its limit, it became necessary to create value in other ways.


The second is the lack of manpower. Over the past few decades, a virtuous cycle has been created in which talented people work in the semiconductor industry and other industries such as batteries and automobiles develop together. However, currently, semiconductor competitiveness continues to weaken due to a reduction in the size of the workforce. Professor Park pointed out, "If we take the foundry as an example, the number of excellent engineers at Samsung Electronics is one-third that of TSMC."


Finally, it is less capable of dealing with the market than its competitors. In the case of Taiwan, not only TSMC but also excellent personnel have entered major customers such as Apple and Google, so it is relatively quick to grasp the market. Professor Park said, "The design and production capacity of domestic semiconductors are sufficiently world-class," but pointed out, "Semiconductors are also a business that satisfies customers, so we need to understand customers' needs, but that is not enough in Korea."


Professor Park is concerned that Korean semiconductors facing new opportunities may be hampered. Demand for semiconductors is gradually increasing as data such as data centers and electric vehicles soar. Although Korea is ahead of Korea in ultra-low power and ultra-high speed semiconductor technology, its ability to provide solutions that customers want is relatively insufficient. The ability to grasp the main technology of overseas competitors is also insufficient.


Professor Park said, "As the capacity unit changes from gigabytes to terabytes and attempts are made to reduce power consumption to one tenth of the previous one, semiconductors are now facing a major turning point." "Securing competitiveness at the national level with a sense of crisis. If we do not focus on this, we will be weeded out,” he predicted. At the same time, he was concerned that "Once the semiconductor leadership is taken away, it will never come back."


Professor Park emphasizes that now is the time for a second "declaration of respect." It is a voice that Korean semiconductors should innovate again, just as Samsung's first chairman Lee Byung-chul jumped into ultra-high density direct circuit (VLSI) 40 years ago. Professor Park said, "If Korea does not innovate once again, centering on the semiconductor sector, there will be a really big crisis," adding, "The government, universities, and companies should work together to create new future competitiveness."


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