South Korea unveils $6.94b AI investment for semiconductor dominance

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol unveiled plans to inject 9.4 trillion won ($6.94 billion) into artificial intelligence (AI) endeavors by 2027, signaling a strategic move to uphold the nation’s prominence in cutting-edge semiconductor chips. The initiative includes a dedicated 1.4 trillion won fund earmarked for nurturing AI semiconductor enterprises. This announcement mirrors efforts by other global powerhouses like the United States, China, and Japan, which are bolstering semiconductor supply chains within their borders.

Semiconductors serve as a cornerstone of South Korea’s export-oriented economy, with chip exports soaring to $11.7 billion in March alone, constituting nearly a fifth of the nation’s total exports. President Yoon characterized the current semiconductor landscape as an “industrial war” and a fierce competition among nations.

The proposed investments aim to substantially amplify research and development in AI chip technologies, encompassing artificial neural processing units (NPUs) and next-generation high-bandwidth memory chips. Additionally, South Korean authorities plan to foster advancements in artificial general intelligence (AGI) and safety technologies beyond prevailing models.

President Yoon envisions positioning South Korea among the top three global leaders in AI technology, capturing at least a 10% share of the global system semiconductor market by 2030. He articulated ambitions to forge a new semiconductor narrative, akin to the nation’s dominance in memory chips over the past three decades.

Addressing concerns over supply chain disruptions triggered by events like the recent earthquake in Taiwan, Yoon underscored the importance of robust preparedness measures. While acknowledging minimal impact on South Korean firms thus far, he emphasized the necessity of anticipating uncertainties.