Memory chip production at risk as North Korea ramps up threats against South Korea, which produces 71% of global memory supply, 51% of NAND for SSDs

SK Hynix
(Image credit: SK Hynix)

North Korea has signaled that it intends to tear up its decades-long constitutional commitment to pursue a peaceful unification with the South, reports the Associated Press, and it also stated it wouldn’t hesitate to “annihilate” the South if provoked. The ramping up of belligerent rhetoric occurs as the communist nation cooperates more closely with Russia and China, and South Korea cooperates with US sanctions and takes part in US military exercises. 

As such, concerns about the concentration of memory IC production in South Korea have started to grow. South Korea is the world's largest memory producer, with Samsung and Sk hynix combining to provide 73% of the global DRAM supply used for memory products and 51% of the NAND supply used for manufacturing SSDs. That raises serious concerns after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that his country will no longer pursue peaceful reconciliation. Kim called for a rewriting of the constitution to scrub away the principle of shared statehood, and declare the South as a permanent adversary.

During a meeting on Monday, at what AP News calls the North Korean ‘rubber stamp’ parliament, Kim abolished three government agencies that were set up to smooth a peaceful reunification process with the South. The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (est.1961), the National Economic Cooperation Bureau, and the International Tourism Administration were all abolished.

Probably most alarmingly, Kim called on the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly to change the constitution to define South Korea as the country’s “primary foe and invariable principal enemy.” AP News reports that Kim requested the new constitution specify that North Korea will endeavor in “occupying, subjugating and reclaiming” South Korea in the event of a war. Kim has also stated that North Korea wouldn’t hesitate to “annihilate” the South if provoked.

If it sounds like the Korean peninsula might be on the brink of war, it is worth considering other aspects of Kim’s speech, like where he reiterated that the North will not unilaterally start a war. Moreover, though talk of nuclear war rightfully fills observers with dread, the South has lived under this threat for many years, and it is a common totalitarian ploy to concentrate minds on the enemies beyond the borders. It could also be the case that an official reframing of foes might benefit internal dramas – giving the propaganda writers fresh material to work with.

Samsung's Semiconductor Plant in Pyeongtaek, South Korea

(Image credit: Samsung)

Getting back to the memory chip topic, South Korea’s government has just revealed plans regarding investments of 622 trillion won ($471 billion) to 2047. The funding should help add 13 new chip fabs to the country’s 21 existing facilities, as well as fund three new R&D centers. Leading memory makers like Samsung and SK hynix are expected to be among the main beneficiaries. We hope that Kim Jong Un’s bellicose behavior is primarily for the internal audience, as suspected, leaving the industrious South to prosper as it has done for decades.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • MatheusNRei
    CommonSenseNow said:
    deleted
    The same way an unconfirmed rumor of Steve Jobs having a heart attack affected Apple stocks a few years ago.
    It doesn't matter whether or not they're a threat, if enough people believe in it it's still affecting the economy.
    Reply
  • MatheusNRei
    CommonSenseNow said:
    deleted
    First of all, kindly mind of manners, none of us are here to be insulted.

    Secondly, last time I checked "supply" was part of the economy and the "greedy scum of the world" are the ones who decide how much of what gets produced based on the price they think they can get for it and on the demand for their goods.

    Not that any of it matters to you of course, someone who joins a forum just to insult the writer of an article and other users is clearly not looking for an honest discussion on the nature of the global economy and the sociopolitical factors that influence it.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Considering foundries are slashing memory production to drive up prices, I don't see this as an issue.
    Reply
  • MatheusNRei
    CommonSenseNow said:
    deleted
    Yes, I'm sure you're right.
    After all, political tensions have never caused supply disruptions in the past.
    And of course, you have actual data to prove your assertions, right?
    You didn't just pull that 'prediction' out of thin air.
    But really, you do you, I fed the troll enough for today.
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    Shocked thread hasn't been locked given tis basically political in nature. (and the mods hate that type of stuff being mentioned in comments)
    Reply
  • MatheusNRei
    hotaru251 said:
    Shocked thread hasn't been locked given tis basically political in nature. (and the mods hate that type of stuff being mentioned in comments)
    Probably because outside of the troll who got banned we're all just having a civil discussion.
    No one is arguing in the thread.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    OK, I think we can cease with the discussion of the military capabilities of North Korea.

    Deal?
    Reply
  • MatheusNRei
    USAFRet said:
    OK, I think we can cease with the discussion of the military capabilities of North Korea.

    Deal?
    Sure thing.
    The discussion more or less ran it's course anyway.
    Reply
  • sebastienbo
    Am I the only one who doesn't think it is good to have more 50% of a world dependency from one single country? What is a natural disaster happens? At most any country should never produce more then 25% of a world need. They should put factories all over the globe. Dale thing for grain, why did oukrain provide more then 50% of all grains in the world? These situations are really fragile and could cause disasters. Why are our leaders not doing something? Split those concerns over 4 different contents. That way a disaster or war won't cause critical shortages. It is never good to have all your important assets in one place. (Country)
    Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    sebastienbo said:
    Am I the only one who doesn't think it is good to have more 50% of a world dependency from one single country? What is a natural disaster happens? At most any country should never produce more then 25% of a world need. They should put factories all over the globe. Dale thing for grain, why did oukrain provide more then 50% of all grains in the world? These situations are really fragile and could cause disasters. Why are our leaders not doing something? Split those concerns over 4 different contents. That way a disaster or war won't cause critical shortages. It is never good to have all your important assets in one place. (Country)
    That's easier said than done.
    Reply