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South Korean President, Yoon Suk Yeol, has announced plans to allocate 9.4 trillion won (USD 6.94 billion) towards artificial intelligence (AI) investments by 2027. This initiative aims to bolster the nation's standing in advanced semiconductor chip technology on the global stage.

The announcement, which also includes a separate 1.4 trillion won fund to foster AI semiconductor firms, comes as South Korea seeks to keep up with countries such as the United States, China, and Japan, all of which are providing significant policy support to strengthen semiconductor supply chains on their own turf.

Investing in R&D

Semiconductors are a critical component of South Korea's export-oriented economy. In March, chip exports reached their highest level in 21 months, totaling USD 11.7 billion, or nearly a fifth of total exports shipped by Asia's fourth largest economy.

“Current competition in semiconductors is an industrial war and an all-out war between nations,” Yoon reportedly told a meeting of policymakers and chip industry executives.

Through earmarked investments and a dedicated fund, South Korea intends to substantially increase its research and development (R&D) efforts in AI chips, including artificial neural processing units (NPUs) and next-generation high-bandwidth memory chips, as outlined by the government in a statement.

Additionally, South Korean authorities will actively encourage the advancement of next-generation artificial general intelligence (AGI) and safety technologies surpassing current models.

Becoming A Leading Nation in AI Technology

Yoon aims to elevate South Korea's status to one of the leading nations in AI technology, encompassing chip development, with a target of securing a 10% or higher share of the global system semiconductor market by 2030.

“Just as we have dominated the world with memory chips for the past 30 years, we will write a new semiconductor myth with AI chips in the next 30 years,” Yoon said.

Yoon also emphasized that the recent earthquake in Taiwan, a global semiconductor hub, had minimal impact on South Korean companies presently. However, he instructed comprehensive readiness measures to address any potential uncertainties in the future.

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