As the government announces the move to design organic light emitting diode (OLED) production equipment technology as a national core technology, the industry is strongly rebelling. It is believed that the display equipment industry argues that the designation is a threat to its 'survival’ and will continue to be harshly against the government, which is steadfastly attempting to prevent the leakage of technology.
According to industry sources, Jae-gyu Park, CEO of Dong-A Eltek, said, "If the government designates OLED equipment technology as a core technology, we will all die" at the meeting with exporting companies held by the Minister of Economy and Finance on January 3rd. He also requested that the decision to be “reconsidered.” Next week, the Display Equipment Industry New Year's Day Event and the Korea-China Display Cooperation Subcommittee Meetings will be held back to back. Key players in the equipment industry are expected to argue that "if OLED equipment technology is designated as a national core technology, the industry will suffer a serious blow."
There are already consequences. It has been reported that Chinese display panel makers, having been informed about the Korean government’s export restrictions on OLED production equipment, have asked individual customers whether ‘there would be a problem.’ This move was made visible on December 28, last year, when the report of the this newspaper (Government about to impose export restrictions on OLED equipment) spread to Korea and China.
"If the government policy is followed through, Japanese equipment makers will be pleased," said an equipment industry official. "The domestic equipment industry will be forced to lose the hard -earned Chinese market, to Japanese companies."
According to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) and the Korea Display Industry Association, domestic display equipment exports (excluding inspection and back-end equipment) have reached US $ 3,473 million (About 4 trillion won) up to the the third quarter of 2018. It is certain that the total exports will exceed $ 3.662 billion (about 4.11 trillion won) by 2019. Among them, the proportion of China has reached 70% on average in the last three years (2016 ~ 2018).
This month, the government will take another step to collect opinions from the industry regarding the designation, change, and cancellation of a national core technology. Thereafter, consultation with related departments on the revision of the national core technology regulations and deliberation of the Industrial Technology Protection Committee will be held.
On the other hand, it has been noted that the recent incident where Toptek executives were arrested on the suspicion of leakage of Samsung Display’s OLED 3D lamination equipment technology to China has triggered the Governmental policy move.
Large domestic display panel makers are disagreeing about the designation of a core technology for OLED equipment. LG Display, which is building a large-sized OLED plant in Guangzhou, China, is opposed to the change, while Samsung Display, which has suffered Toptek events, supports the designation.