Russia has offered to supply hydrogen fluoride to South Korea, struggling to find an alternative source after Japan slammed export control on the key material essential in wafer process to etch glass in TV panels or clean silicon chips, both areas Korea relies heavily for exports.
Russia has made the suggestion through diplomatic channel, ensuring its material has the same high quality or is even better than Japanese products, an unnamed government official said Friday.
On July 1, Japan announced that it will curb shipments to Korea of three materials used for chip and display production - fluorinated polyimide, photoresists and hydrogen fluoride, in what is widely seen as punitive action for the recent Korean court ruling ordering Japanese firms to compensate wartime forced laborers. Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, the world’s two largest memory chipmakers, and LG Display, the largest display maker, entirely rely on Japanese supplies for the materials.
All of the three materials are key chemicals in wafer fabrication that Japanese suppliers enjoy a dominant market share.
The idea of seeking alternative suppliers in Germany and Russia had been floated at the closed-door meeting of President Moon Jae-in and business representatives on Wednesday, the official said.
But whether Korean makers will shift away from its reliable suppliers in Japan for the highly dangerous and sophisticated material source remains uncertain as they cannot risk losing competitiveness in top-rate chips and displays.
By Kim Sung-hoon and Choi Mira
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