Tuesday, May 2, 2017

War in Korea and the global electronics market?

During the past week or so, mainstream media outlets around the world have reacted to statements by U.S. President Donald Trump that a war in Korea could have a major impact on the global electronics industry.  Bloomberg headlined that "A Korean War Could Cut Pipeline of Vital Technologies to the World."  The sub-head read "if Korea is hit by a missile, all electronics production will stop." Reuters played it more low-key, with a headline that "Investors, South Korean tech suppliers brush off North Korean threat."    Reuters went so far as to publish a map of Korea showing its key factory locations by company. (click on the graphic for a full size image)
The common denominator in the Bloomberg and Reuters stories is a surface-scratching, sketchy, or vague understanding of Korea, and in particular its ICT sector.  For one thing, the R&D and manufacturing capacity of big companies like Samsung and LG today are spread around the world, including locations like Austin Texas, cities in China and Vietnam (smartphone manufacturing).   How the global electronics industry might be affected by a hypothetical war in Korea is indeed a much more complex matter than these press reports indicate.  It deserves much more thoughtful and in-depth scrutiny.

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