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Research Still Drives Korea’s Economy

Posted January. 02, 2007 03:01,   


Researchers in Korea’s three industries have strong enthusiasm, and this is why Korea’s future is bright. Research and development laboratories in the semiconductor, automobile and shipbuilding industries, the driving force for the nations’ economic growth, are backed by the enthusiasm of their researchers.

Last year, exports of the three industries were around $100 billion, a third of Korea’s total, which exceeded the $300 billion mark for the first time. The exports are all the more meaningful as they come despite many difficult conditions such as a strong won, high oil prices, strikes and sluggish domestic demand. Such an achievement was made possible after many sleepless nights by researchers aiming toward the goal of becoming the world’s best.

The business department of this newspaper visited the R&D centers of Samsung, Hyundai-Kia Motors and Hyundai Heavy Industries, Korea’s most famous companies in electronics, automobiles and shipbuilding, respectively, and interviewed R&D workers, the unseen heroes who are making special efforts, as a special report to start 2007.

Their performance was outstanding last year-

Samsung Electronics developed 40nm (nanometer is one billionth of a meter), 32Gb NAMD Flash memory, which could replace hard disks in personal computers.

Hyundai Motors developed the world’s third hydrogen fuel cell bus and launched pilot trials. And the technology of hybrids, the next generation car, advanced rapidly and hybrid cars are soon to be introduced in the Korean market.

Hyundai Heavy Industries reaffirmed its position as the world’s top shipbuilder after it developed faster and more fuel-efficient ships.

However, researchers who invented those products fail to get the attention of society. The more important their works are, the greater the chances are that they remain in the shadows due to security and competition for researchers.

They may feel sorry for themselves in secret due to Korea’s attitude of downplaying science and engineering. However, they feel satisfied to see that their products take center stage around the world and contribute to the economy. They feel the same way as parents who raise their children without expecting any return. One Hyundai-Kia Motors researcher said, “I feel proud to the thought that technological innovation changes the world. If I had a second chance in my life, I would become a researcher once again.”