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S. Korean President embarks on five-day state visit to Netherlands

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : December 12, 2023, 16:15 Updated : December 12, 2023, 20:59
Yonhap News Photo
[Yonhap News Photo]
SEOUL -- South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has embarked on a five-day state visit to the Netherlands on December 11. On the first day of his journey, Yoon met Korean compatriots and mentioned that his state visit is aimed at upgrading semiconductor cooperation between Seoul and Amsterdam. The South Korean leader will later tour ASML, a promising Dutch manufacturer of chip-making equipment.

"With this visit, the semiconductor cooperation between South Korea and the Netherlands will be upgraded into a 'semiconductor alliance,'" Yoon said during a dinner event attended by 100 Korean compatriots. He added: "The bilateral relationship is expanding into various fields, from strategic areas such as national defense and security to economy, culture, advanced science and technology, and education."

Yoon is set to look around the headquarters of ASML in Veldhoven on December 12. Along with King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Yoon will meet with ASML CEO Peter Wennink and tour the company's main facilities. The Dutch company is the exclusive producer of extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) machinery making physical chips from silicon wafers.

Using the EUV technique, chipmakers can produce smaller, more powerful semiconductor chips. Because EUV-based chips have higher transistor density, manufacturers can pack more transistors into a small given area. ASML has provided the EUV systems to Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, a major memory chip producer in South Korea.

ASML is also building a lithography cluster in Hwaseong, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) southwest of Seoul, to improve the supply chain of materials related to high-tech semiconductor equipment in South Korea. The construction of the cluster that began in November 2022 is expected to be completed in 2025, with an investment of 240 billion won ($182.7 million). 

According to the president, the bilateral trade between the two countries reached a record high of $16 billion in 2022, and South Korean content, such as K-pop and K-dramas, is exceptionally popular in the European country. The Netherlands is currently South Korea's second-largest European trade partner and the two nations established the diplomatic relationship in 1961.

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