A senior researcher formerly working at Samsung Display, accused of stealing OLED trade secrets with an aim to sell them to Chinese display makers, returns to Korea to face chargers

In 2021, we reported that two researchers working at Samsung Display were convicted of handing over OLED technology to other companies, and are being sent to prison for two years. Representative and directors of the company that bought the technology was also sent to prison and the company was fined. The technology in question relates to Optical Adhesive Materials used in OLED production processes. The arrest of these employees was reported earlier in 2020.

It is now reported that another employee of Samsung Display, also involved in that case (seems to be he was the main organizer of the outfit) fled Korea following his indictment, but has now returned voluntarily to Korea and has been arrested and is now bring charged with violating unfair competition laws in Korea. 


The researcher is accused of illegally acquiring trade secrets - technologies related to OLED ELA (Excimer Laser Annealing, used to process a-Si into LTPS backplanes) and OCR used in OLED inkjet printing processes. The researcher has acquired these technologies and intended to sell them to Chinese companies in in 2018 - 2020.  The prosecution says the trade secrets' worth was at least $250 million USD. 

The researcher worked at Samsung Display for over 10 years, and after he retired he founded a display company in Korea, and he is accused of stealing technologies and trade secrets from Samsung with an aim to sell them to Chinese display makers. The junior researchers that worked with him were the ones sent to prison in 2021.

This is the latest in many similar cases in Korea, where Chinese companies were suspected of OLED espionage. In 2018 South Korean prosecutors indicted a group of 11 executives and employees of Korea-based Toptec, a Samsung Electronics supplier, accusing them with leaking Samsung's flexible OLED technology to Chinese display makers (BOE and CSoT, in that case).

In June 2018 the South Korean prosecution indicted several officials that allegedly tried to sell Samsung's OLED technology secrets to China. These officials include Korean and Chinese researchers - and also a professor at a national Korean research institution. In October 2018, it was reported that critical information regarding OLED technologies and plans has been leaked from LG Display's headquarters - and that the company suspects espionage from Chinese-based companies.

In May 2012 employees at Israeli company Orbotech's local Korean branch were accused of leaking OLED technology form both LGD and SDC to several Chinese and Taiwanese companies. But it's not just Chinese companies that try to access protected OLED technology - in 2012 LGD was charged with stealing OLED secrets from Samsung Display as well.

In 2012 it was also reported that former AUO employees sold AMOLED technology secrets to China's CSoT.

Posted: Oct 10,2023 by Ron Mertens