South Korea, which has brought itself as one of the manufacturing industry powerhouses in the world after overcoming countless crisis, is standing on the edge of a cliff again. Its manufacturing industry is losing more energy each day and it is constantly facing provocation from other powerful nations. Only thing that will help South Korea overcome current crisis is technology. The Electronic Times is declaring technological independence of South Korean industries as it faces 37th anniversary.
First, have major industries separate themselves by encouraging them to rely on their own technologies.
Second, have South Korean industries to grab the upper hand when it comes to the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies so that they can create new industries.
Third, have industries, universities, research institutes, and South Korean Government to join hands to create sustainable industrial ecosystems.
In July, Japanese Government targeted South Korea’s semiconductor industry and carried out an economic retaliation measure. It tightened its regulation on exportation of three key semiconductor materials such as hydrogen fluoride and excluded South Korea from its white list of favored trading partners. This measure was part of Japanese Government’s economic invasion by making the court decision made on forced labor during the Japanese Empire era as its excuse.
Japanese Government pressured South Korean to make a diplomatic solution by targeting the foundation of South Korean industries. Its strategy was to induce South Korea to concede to its way and suppress the growth of South Korea’s next-generation industries at the same time. Due to Japanese Government’s stubborn retaliation measure, there have been many boycotts towards Japanese products and it is likely that current economic war between South Korea and Japan will last for quite some time.
Only solution is for South Korean industries to be independent from foreign technologies. Out of all industries, manufacturing industry is the only industry that will make South Korea go. Manufacturing industry is the main reason why South Korea has been able to sustain an average annual growth of 4.6%. Manufacturing industry had also helped South Korea to overcome economic crisis resulting from a subprime mortgage incident in 2007. Localization of car engine and the growth of materials and parts industries are also the reason why South Korea’s automotive industry has emerged as one of the top automotive industries in the world. South Korea has overcome countless hardships and crisis.
South Korea needs to respond to Japanese Government’s economic retaliation by being independent from Japan when it comes to key materials, parts, and equipment. However, it is not smart for South Korea to do everything on its own. First, it needs to lay out a foundation so that it can carry out R&D and mass-production of high-value items. In addition, it needs to realistically analyze Japanese Government’s intention and look for diplomatic solutions at the same time. South Korean industries also need to diversify their sources for import and put in efforts to localize key materials and parts.
The Electronic Times has looked for alternatives to prepare a foundation for technological independence. It has gathered suggestions from experts to secure key technologies for current major industries and promising industries for the future. Minister Sung Yoon-mo of Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and Chairman Kwon Oh-kyung of National Academy of Engineering of Korea are going to have a special talk under a topic called ‘Industrial Policies and Tasks for Research Industry for Technological Independence’. Kim Kwang-ho, who is the first chairman of Korea Semiconductor Industry Association, suggested an alternative to innovate the ecosystem of South Korean semiconductor industry.
Current trade war between South Korea and Japan will create an opportunity for South Korea to create an ecosystem for new industries. South Korea needs to think about how it is going to help its major industries to further distance themselves from other powerful nations and what technologies it is going to use to create driving forces the future. Various experts also talked about detailed strategies in order for industries, universities, research institutes, and South Korean Government to join hands and prepare an ecosystem for sustainable industries. Technological independence is not only taking place in South Korea. Foreign countries are also working on establishing a silk road for new industries to gain technological independence.
Technological independence cannot be a short-term measure to respond to Japanese Government’s economic retaliation. The Electronic Times’ reporters met with people from all social standings and visited various industrial settings to show a map for new hope that will be brought by ‘technological independence’ to the readers of The Electronic Times.
Technology has always been the driving force for innovation. Invention of a wheel had caused serious controversy. Clergies and sorcerers warned that wheel will be a disaster that will bring the end of the world. Technology that aims for innovation always faces resistance. However, wheel is now seen as an innovation and it has eventually led to industrial revolution. It is time for South Korea to be deeply rooted through technological independence.
Staff Reporter Gil, Jaeshik | firstname.lastname@example.org