Korean conglomerates continue to move their business abroad. The biggest reason is to follow the market, but the deteriorating environment for the manufacturing industry has also played a role with rising land prices, excessive regulations and tense industrial relations here.
No big new manufacturing plants have been built in Korea since Samsung Electronics broke ground for a semiconductor factory in June 2012. That project is still underway.
In the meantime, Samsung started building a NAND flash memory plant in Xian, China in September 2012 and completed it last month. It also started building a second mobile phone factory in Vietnam in March last year.
The plant in Vietnam already went into operation this March although it is not yet completed. Now it employs some 5,000 staff, and the number is expected to double by the end of the year.
Considering the number of employees of Samsung contractors who moved with the electronics giant, over 30,000 jobs have moved from Korea to Vietnam.
Hyundai’s Asan plant in Gyeonggi Province, completed at the end of 1990s, was the last factory it built in Korea. But the country's top carmaker is building big new plants in China every three to five years. It currently operates three plants in Beijing and is eyeing a fourth plant in Chongqing.
LG Electronics has hired more people abroad than in Korea since the early 2000s. As of the end of last year, it had 38,365 employees in Korea but 47,540 abroad.