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Prosecution arrests six for leaking core technologies to China

Prosecution arrests six for leaking core technologies to China

Posted January. 27, 2023 07:39,   

Updated January. 27, 2023 07:39


Six people, including a former employee of a semiconductor conglomerate in South Korea, were put on trial on charges of leaking the national core technology, the Chemical Mechanical Polishing (CMP) technologies to China.

The Technology & Design Police Division (Technology Police) of the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office announced on Thursday that they arrested three people, including a man surnamed A, and charged three people without detention for violating the Industrial Technology Protection Act and the Unfair Competition Prevention Act.

According to the KIPO, Mr. A was suspected of accessing confidential semiconductor-related data by connecting to the company’s internal network with a computer and a business cell phone, filming them using his personal mobile, and leaking them to a Chinese firm. The data handed over by the man reportedly contain a number of advanced semiconductor wafer polishing technologies and trade secrets.

After being turned down for a promotion in 2018, A who is the main culprit of the crime promised to work with a Chinese company on semiconductor wafer polishing in June 2019. While continuing to work at the company, he helped the Chinese firm establish the production base and manage the business through messengers.

He hired three researchers from other companies as vice president, team leader, and team member of the Chinese company, respectively, in September 2019. He later moved himself to the firm in China as president in May 2020.

The Technology Police found that the confidential business information of two other companies, along with the conglomerate where Mr. A had worked, was also leaked. Among the three companies affected, the estimated damage of the firm with the smallest loss was reported to reach 100 billion won. “The companies are not willing to disclose how much they’ve lost in detail,” said an official of the KIPO.

The three are listed companies on the KOSPI and KOSDAQ, manufacturing semiconductor material parts or memory semiconductors, with a total market capitalization of 66 trillion won.

Myung-Hun Jee mhjee@donga.com