What’s our legacy?

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What’s our legacy?

The author is the head of the industry 1 team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Korea’s lead in the battery industry has been taken by China. A year ago, three Korean battery companies — LG Energy Solution, SK Innovation and Samsung SDI — dominated the world. This year, China took the lead and the gap is growing. The three Korean battery companies barely make up 30 percent of the market. Five Chinese companies — CALT, BYD, CALB, Guoxuan and AESC — increased their share to nearly 40 percent with government backing, according to SNE Research.

The situation in the 5G and semiconductor foundry industries is not good. Samsung Electronics is chasing Taiwan’s TSMC in the foundry business, but it’s not enough. Samsung Electronics declared “Semiconductor Vision 2030” two years ago to be the market leader, but its global market share is not much more than 10 percent, and TSMC is far ahead, growing from 50 percent to 60 percent, says TrendForce.

In 5G, the core of the fourth industrial revolution, China’s Huawei and ZTE attained their dominant global market share of nearly 40 percent despite America keeping checks on them. Huawei surpasses Samsung, Nokia and Qualcomm in 5G international standard patents (WIPO). The U.S. and Japan made a belated investment of 5 trillion won ($4.4 billion) and formed a 6G alliance, but Huawei plans to commercialize 6G in 2030.

In recent years, global technology hegemony has shifted. Especially in the fields that Korea trusted as its future growth engines, such as battery, 5G and semiconductors, Korea is falling behind China in technological capacity and market share. I am witnessing young Koreans’ future jobs disappear. Korea is not the only one feeling the pressure. Since Joe Biden’s inauguration, the United States has advocating “Build Back Better,” focusing on a manufacturing revival and economic reconstruction. The German and Japanese governments are pushing for Industry 4.0 and an industrial revival strategy to strengthen manufacturing industries and create jobs. China wants to be a manufacturing superpower.

Then, what’s Korea’s strategy against the U.S., China and Japan? What’s the option to protect quality jobs for young people? In the Moon Jae-in administration, I heard of its strategies to keep power for 20 to 50 years, but I’ve never heard of its industrial strategy for 20 to 50 years. As of April, youth unemployment is at 11.2 percent and total unemployment is at 4.2 percent. As the young generation’s real jobless rate is over 24 percent, what future industries and jobs will be passed to them? Are we only passing on public jobs and more than a quadrillion won of debt?

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