South Korea's LED industry makes great strides

South Korea's LED industry grew by 61% in 2004, and is starting to compete with Taiwan in various markets for packaged LEDs.

South Korea's LED industry grew by 61% to reach a total of 728 billion won ($708 million) in 2004, according to data from Yano Research Institute and Taiwan’s Photonics Industry & Technology Development Association (PIDA).

In a separate press release, PIDA said that the value of Taiwan's LED packaging industry was $1.08 billion in 2004.

Reporting the news, the DigiTimes website said that South Korea-based LED makers are eying the high-luminance LED sector for lighting equipment, and could be switching their focus from chip production to packaging and white LED production.

PIDA says that the total capacity for blue LED chips from South Korea’s major suppliers ramped up from 120 million units per month in mid-2003 to 300 million in mid-2004.

Samsung Electro-Mechanics (SEM) was scheduled to boost its monthly capacity from 100 million units at present to 200 million by the end of 2005. LG Innotek was expected to follow suit, with an increase in capacity from 30 million units per month to 100 million.

However, SEM and LG Innotek may shift their ambitions from capacity expansion to back-end packaging and testing, where packaging materials and heat-dissipation issues are key, according to TJ Wang, president of Arima Optoelectronics, a Taiwanese chip maker.

Wang speculated that the Korean companies might slow or halt their capacity-expansion plans and place orders with Taiwan LED chipmakers, while competing for orders for white LEDs.

Taiwanese LED-packaging firms will definitely face competition, with South Korea packaging companies now moving to develop high-luminance white LEDs for automotive and lighting applications, commented a spokesperson for Taiwan LED maker and packaging company Harvatek.

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South Korea LED makers - 2004 revenue

Seoul Semiconductor (SSC): 176 billion won ($171 million). Year-on-year growth: 39%
Samsung Electro-Mechanics (SEM): 140 billion won ($136 million). YOY: 27%
LG Innotek: 78 billion won ($76 million). YOY: 30%
Luxpia: 70 billion won ($68 million). YOY: 219%
CSENG: 40 billion won ($39 million). YOY: 300%
Itswell: 30 billion won ($29 million). YOY: 50%
LumiMicro: 30 billion won ($29 million). YOY: 500%
NiNEX: 29 billion won ($28 million). YOY: 142%
Knowledge* On: billion won ($26 million). YOY: 27 23%
AUK: 20 billion won ($19 million). YOY: 59%
Won Semiconductor: 8.4 billion won ($8 million). YOY: 180%
Others: 80 billion won ($77 million). YOY: 60%

TOTAL: 728 billion won ($708 million). YOY: 61%

[Credit: Yano Research Institute, PIDA, DigiTimes]

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