For at least three to five years, South Korea has been considered to be leading China in the semiconductor industry. In order to reduce this gap and even catch up with South Korea, China has not only invested heavily in facilities, but has also used high pay to hire tech talent from Korea.
Many Koreans are surprised by the amount of money China is willing to pay. The Chinese side usually proposes a salary three times higher than the current job, with a three-year guarantee period. A Korean semiconductor professional said, “If you are over 50 years old and you don’t have an ideal position in the company, the high salary will naturally tempt you. If you continue to work in Korea, you can still work for up to 3 years. However, a three-fold salary plus a three-year guarantee is the same as an additional 7-8 years of salary.”
People said that three times the current pay is a general case. For those who have important technology at hand, the salary that the Chinese propose is even as high as eight times. China has reportedly hired more than 1,000 scientific and technical personnel from the Korean semiconductor industry, offering a high salary.
Semiconductors are South Korea’s most important export to China. For China, the domestically produced semiconductors account for only 15 percent of total demand and the remaining 85 percent need to be purchased from South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States.
After China has overtaken Korea in mobile phones, display panels, shipbuilding, automobiles, and other industries, the semiconductor has become the only industry in which Korea is leading China. In the first 10 months of this year, Korea’s semiconductor exports to China were about US$60 billion. This figure exactly equals Korea’s trade surplus with China from January to October. If China overtakes the semiconductor, the bilateral balance of trade could reverse.
Source: Radio Free Asia, December 12, 2018