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February 24, 2019
Big Reunion


[DECODED X] Chip off the shoulder

  • PUBLISHED :September 22, 2017 - 17:02
  • UPDATED :September 23, 2017 - 16:14
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DECODED X is more than just news.

It’s a weekly brief of critical political and economic events in Korea and their takeaway, created by The Investor staff for an exclusive group of opinion leaders.

To ensure content quality, DECODED X is offered as a paid service.

Corporate annual subscription fees are set at US$3,000, but The Investor is handing out special discounts this year.

For more details, please contact Monica Lee (
jylee@heraldcorp.com), or call 82-727-0616. You can also get in touch with Editor-in-Chief Jemmie Kim (jemmie@heraldcorp.com).

In the meantime, enjoy the highlights of the Sept. 22 issue of DECODED X.


Toshiba will literally get rid of a chip on its shoulder when
it sells its chip-making unit, most likely to a consortium formed by Bain Capital.

Included in the group selected as preferred bidder is SK hynix, the world’s No. 2 manufacturer of memory chips after Samsung Electronics.

The deal will be groundbreaking and turn a company that was once left for dead into a global leader.

It’s a worn story, but before its recent heyday, SK hynix started out as a construction firm, believe it or not -- Hyundai Construction. In 1983, it was reborn as Hyundai Electronics Industries. Later on, it merged with LG and got the name Hynix Semiconductor.

The firm underwent a series of crisis before it was finally acquired by SK Group. The rest is history.

Read on for this week’s DECODED X.


The tale of vicious rivalry between Daewoong and Medytox appears to be nearing the end.

Daewoong, which was repeatedly bashed by Medytox for
allegedly stealing its strain for making botulinum toxin -- you know, the injections you get to smooth out wrinkles -- may wilt under legal pressure.

Medytox has sued Daewoong in the US courts, and The Investor sources say the latter may soon be settling. It does seem likely on many fronts, as unlike Medytox, which has been vocally and vehemently crying foul, Daewoong has been keeping pretty much to itself.

This little incident has been drawing quite a bit of attention from related circles.

Experts are now calling for stronger regulations to protect botulinum toxin copyrights.

Stay tuned for more on the issue.


Root Impact is a four-year-old nonprofit organization supporting so-called “social ventures”. Moreover, as of now it’s best known for its head Chung Kyung-sun, grandson of the Hyundai Group founder.

Hyundai Group, as many of you may know, was at the core of Korea’s industrialization. 

Unlike most of his relatives who were driven to jump from high-rise buildings, Chung is said to have a laid-back approach toward Root Impact -- which is in a way natural since the firm is after all, not for profit.

His staff, however, do seem to freak out a bit due to the fame of their boss, and find it hard to take things lightly no matter how relaxed Chung may appear.


China’s top three state-run telcos are China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile.

It’s a lesson we all learned the hard way, but in China, any industry or company worth fighting for are still state-owned. 

So anyway, all the three are coming to the ITU Busan 2017 (hosted by the UN agency International Telecommunication Union), but they are making sure to stay under the radar.

Their headquarters (in other words, the Chinese government) told them to shack up in cheap hotels, spend as less as necessary, and keep a low profile.

All this is because of the STILL ongoing THAAD dispute between Beijing and Seoul that seems to be lasting forever.

It actually seems that things are stuck in a perpetual THAAD limbo, despite what Chinese firms keep claiming about how THAAD never was, and is still not an issue.

Clashing voices from different parties -- including, ahem, the Chinese government -- is making it harder than ever for relations to be normalized.


It was a funny and awkward situation for spectators of a mock StarCraft tournament at the recent Soft Wave 2017, a software convention.

Samsung SDS’ in-house gaming teams faced off with artificial intelligence programs they had each created. But the results were quite embarrassing, according to those on the scene, and the games ended not exactly according to plans. 

That wasn’t all. Blizzard Entertainment, owners of StarCraft, called up the Samsung SDS people mid-game, wondering if they had permission to publicly play the game to promote Samsung’s AI programs.

Samsung got out of it somehow, explaining the AIs were created by “amateurs.”


Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin was quite the comedian at an event this month marking the 10th anniversary of Asia Society’s Korean chapter.

Shin, who heads Asia Society Center Korea, gave the audience of distinguished guests including ambassadors and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a chance to choke out embarrassed laughs. 

The Investor doesn’t know the exact words, but he said something along the lines of “as you all know, a lot has happened to me in the past couple of years.”

Now, that’s an understatement. Lotte has been persecuted relentlessly by the government and it ended with family members owning up to creating slush funds, and suicide by one of Shin’s close business confidantes.

At the funeral, Shin received much spotlight for appearing so emotional. Despite it all, Lotte still stands as one of Korea’s top conglomerates.

On a side note, perhaps Shin should make more public appearances, as he seems to have a sense of humor. 

Click here for DECODED X Sept. 22

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