Korean Chip Exec’s Samsung Secrets China Plot Trial Under Way


The trial of a South Korean chip executive, Choi Jinseog, accused of stealing sensitive information from Samsung to build a chip factory in China, got underway on Wednesday.

Prosecutors have alleged that Choi, a former Samsung Electronics executive and a South Korean chip expert, stole sensitive information developed by the world’s top memory chipmaker.

The high-profile criminal case against Choi, an award-winning engineer once seen as a star in South Korea’s chip industry, highlights Seoul’s efforts to crack down on industrial espionage and slow China’s progress in chip manufacturing.

Choi, now in custody in Suwon, a city south of Seoul where Samsung has its headquarters, attended the hearing in his beige prison uniform and denied all the charges.


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“The defendant [Choi] never used or gave orders to use Samsung Electronics’ data,” Kim Pilsung, Choi’s lawyer, said, adding that what prosecutors claimed Choi had stolen were neither business secrets nor national core technology.

Choi briefly said “yes” when asked by a judge whether he agreed with his lawyer.

Prosecutors have also charged five former employees at Choi’s chip consultancy firm, Jin Semiconductor, and a former employee at a Samsung contractor.

In a letter from prison last month, Choi rejected allegations he had sought to build a copycat chip factory in China with information illegally obtained via Samsung’s supplier network.

Samsung representatives were not immediately available for comment.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


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Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.

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