Minister Jong-Ho Lee, “Cooperation between the MOTIE, MOE for semiconductor policies … the contract quota policy was my idea.” (Korea JoongAng Daily, 2022.07.20)

2022-07-20l Hit 221

Jong-Ho Lee, the Minster of Science and ICT, giving an opening address at the ‘Ministry of Science and ICT press conference’, which was held at the Korea Press Center, Seoul Jung-Gu, in the morning of the 20th of July [Photo: Ministry of Science and ICT]

“Regarding semiconductor policies, there is a division of roles between related government bodies such as MOTIE (Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy), MOE (Ministry of Education), and the Ministry of Science and ICT. I believe that cooperation is necessary to achieve results.”

Minster Lee held his first press conference after taking office. During the conference, which was held at the Press Center located in Seoul, Jung-Gu, on the 20th, he emphasized the need for inter-ministerial cooperation regards to the Yoon administration’s semiconductor policies.

From the beginning of the conference, questions related to semiconductor policies were asked to Minster Lee, who was a professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at SNU, and served as the director of the Inter-University Semiconductor Research Center. One question asked was “Until now, the ministry in charge of semiconductor policies was MOTIE, and you would have to cooperate with MOE on the matter of training manpower. Do you have any discomfort regarding such a situation as a semiconductor expert?”

Minister Lee answered, “Since the MOTIE works on policies regarding the industrial sector, I believe that there is a division of roles between the Ministry of Science and ICT and MOTIE”, and that “Having a single body overseeing the semiconductor industry, which is an industry built on multi-disciplinary background, is questionable; we can only do well when several related government bodies cooperate.” Regarding the role of the Ministry of Science and ICT, he explained that there is a role to be played to develop AI and semiconductor technologies and to handle certain areas that make commercialization difficult. “There is no discomfort”, said Jong-Ho Lee.

He also mentioned that the ‘contract quota system’ included in the semiconductor-related talent training policy announced on the previous day by the MOE was his idea. Minster Lee said, “Minsters that served as professors previously do not only have disadvantages”, and that “Such an idea would be impossible to have thought of by those that did not work as a professor before. The Ministry of Science and ICT proposed the idea, and it is my understanding that the MOE is positively assessing it.”

The contract quota system refers to a flexible quota system in which universities temporarily add and operate a separate quota for high-tech-related departments that are already in place. The existing contract department policy can be a burden on universities and companies due to the difficulty of securing educators and operating expenses; the establishment and operation of such departments require significant time and money. Minster Lee is said to have proposed this policy because it provides more flexibility to the talent training process than simply increasing the quota for certain departments.

When asked for his opinion on the US encouraging Korea to participate in the Chip 4 Alliance, he spared his words, saying “If I were still a professor, I could talk freely, but now I have to be more cautious.” However, he did say that “I gave it much thought, and I had a phone call with a company executive that has been to China. It comes down to making sure that the policies are in line with the national interest.”, and that “For now, the situation is localized to the matter of semiconductors, but choosing a side could affect other industries. There is a need to be careful and dispassionate about this.”

Meanwhile, ahead of the launch of the Korean lunar orbiter ‘Danuri’ on the 3rd of the next month, Minister Lee announced his plans to personally visit the US launch site. Minister Lee and officials from the Minster of Science and ICT will leave for the United States at the end of July to visit Washington, D.C.. It is scheduled for him to observe the launch of the Danuri in Florida after meeting with officials from NASA.




Translated by: Do-Hyung Kim, English Editor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,