From security to economySouth Korea and the United States have expanded their alliance beyond security to economy and technology. The foundation has been Korea’s capabilities in core technology like semiconductors and batteries. Business management consultant Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great” calls core tech a key asset in the hedgehog concept, a powerful tool to make an individual or company go from good to great. A hedgehog knows one big thing. The strategy to become the best in one field makes a strong defense and asset that keeps predators at bay. Selective competitiveness in Korean manufacturing power shone its influence at the recent summit talks between Korea and the United States.
Korea has a powerful edge in chip and battery production. The United States is focusing on building leadership in chips — the source of high tech — and its power base — battery — to contain China’s tech ascension. It is trying to rebuild high-tech manufacturing capabilities it surrendered to Japan and South Korea from the 1980s through the help of enterprises of allied countries. Korean companies pledged $37.4 billion ($33.3 million) during the latest presidential visit. President Joe Biden asked executives of Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and battery arms of LG and SK to stand up and thanked them three times during the joint press conference.
Such business focus has been unprecedented at U.S. summit conferences. Business and tech alliances with the United States on top of a security alliance can solidify bilateral ties and protection. Korea would ride on the U.S.-led supply chain and have greater access to the world’s biggest market. Exports of materials and parts also would pick up.
Tech ranking can be easily replaced by rivals. Korea’s supremacy in nuclear reactor technology was impaired by the state phase-out policy. Although the nuclear reactor segment has gained new opportunities through joint overseas market exploration with the United States, extra efforts must be made. Korea’s edge in chip and battery making is also being closely chased by Taiwan and Japan.
The United States is seeking Korea’s high-tech capabilities to create more jobs. As many as 955 Korean companies have invested in the United States, hiring 90,000 Americans. That much of a void has been made at home. Anti-business sentiment only accelerated the phenomenon. Anti-business policy and regulations must be lifted so that Korean enterprises maintain a central research and development base at home and continue to create jobs. Such follow-up measures will only turn the business alliance between Korea and the United States into a win-win strategy for future generations.