Back To Top

Samsung’s Lee, SK’s Chey ‘spar’ over semiconductors in front of Moon

Owners of the world’s two largest memory chipmakers -- Samsung’s Lee Jae-yong and SK Group’s Chey Tae-won -- boasted of their business confidence during a walk with President Moon Jae-in at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday.

The conglomerate chiefs were among eight business representatives that took a 25-minute walk around the Cheong Wa Dae garden after a more official business meeting.

Business leaders and aides accompany President Moon Jae-in (center) on a walk around the garden at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday. Yonhap
Business leaders and aides accompany President Moon Jae-in (center) on a walk around the garden at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday. Yonhap

In response to Moon’s expression of concerns about a slowdown in the semiconductors market, Samsung heir Lee agreed, “The market is not as favorable as before.”

But he followed the remarks with confidence, saying, “Now only the true strengths (winner) will show.”

Chey immediately chimed in, saying, “That’s the scariest thing Samsung can say.”

In response, Lee casually tapped Chey’s shoulder and said, “Oops, I have let out the trade secret.”

The casual exchange between the two chaebol leaders in front of the president came as the market has been jittery with this year’s less optimistic outlook for the semiconductors industry, which has been carrying a large load amid otherwise gloomy economic performances.

The SK chairman then became more serious, explaining to the president it is a typical phenomenon caused by a fall in price rather than in demand.

“Demand for chipsets is consistently on the rise, while the prices are being adjusted a little bit,” Chey said.

President Moon also asked about the chipmakers’ plans to expand into non-memory markets, to which Lee said, “Companies do need to make a new attempt in order to seek growth.”

During the conversation, the Samsung heir also requested Moon make another visit to the company’s factory or research center -- for example, a new center on tackling fine dust -- referencing the president’s visit to Samsung’s smartphone factory in Noida, India, in August.

Moon did not back off, saying, “I am available anytime, only if Samsung makes large investments to build a new factory or a research institute.”

They were accompanied on the walk by Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Park Yong-maan, Hyundai Motor Group Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Celltrion Chairman Seo Jung-jin, Netmarble Chairman Bang Jun-hyuk and Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun.

Moon particularly paid attention to Hyundai’s Hyun, promising her that he would see to better progress in inter-Korean relations, citing her firm’s long-suspended North Korean businesses.

Seo, meanwhile, promoted the potential of bio and health care businesses, saying he was willing to supply the president with “endless supplements to help maintain his health.” The chairman added that with collaborations with other firms like Samsung, the local bio pharmaceutical players would be able to expand their share in the global market.

By Song Su-hyun (
catch table
Korea Herald daum