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Chief of Korean memory chip maker flies to Japan amid trade row

Lee Seok-hee, the CEO of South Korean memory chip maker SK hynix Inc., flew to Japan Sunday to discuss resourcing in the wake of the Japanese government's tighter regulation on exports of critical semiconductor materials to South Korea.

Early this month, Japan imposed stricter regulations on exports to South Korea of three materials -- resist, etching gas and fluorinated polyimide that are critical for the production of semiconductors and flexible displays. Tokyo is reportedly planning to expand the restrictions to other sectors.

Lee Seok-hee (SK hynix)
Lee Seok-hee (SK hynix)

The unprecedented move by Japan jarred South Korean chipmakers, including Samsung Electronics, the world's largest memory chip maker. Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong flew to Japan earlier this month to secure emergency stockpiles of some of the three materials.

SK hynix said its CEO also went to Japan to find ways to secure semiconductor materials. Lee will reportedly stay in Japan for several days to meet with the executives at SK hynix's Japanese partners over how to source the restricted materials.

He also plans to discuss countermeasures to Japan's further export restrictions.

"SK hynix is known to have entered into an emergency operation immediately after the announcement of Japan's export curbs ... Its CEO seems to be stepping in as the issue has shown no signs of resolution," a industry insider said. (Yonhap)