Updated March. 06, 2008 03:05
A new plasma display panel technology developed by LG Electronics has been leaked to a Chinese company, dealing a loss of one trillion won, or more than one billion dollars, to the Korean economy.
Seoul prosecutors indicted yesterday a former LG manager for corporate espionage. The 49-year-old man, identified only by his last name Jeong, allegedly leaked the new technology to Changhong-Orion PDP-Chaihong of China.
Two other LG employees also face charges of corporate espionage.
Sources said Jeong copied 1,182 files on his portable hard disk in July 2005 just before leaving LG. The files contained key pieces of the PDP technology, including information on equipment arrangement and setup in the plant and what types of equipment were used.
The Chinese company hired Jeong in February last year, giving him an annual salary of 300,000 dollars, an apartment and a vehicle. In return, he handed over secret information on LG.
Between March and September last year, the other two suspects collaborated with Jeong and provided him with sensitive information via e-mail and CD-ROM on the plants power structure and construction blueprints. Upon receipt, Jeong gave the information to the Chinese company.
In February last year, Jeong moved to Szechuan, where the Chinese company was building a plant, to consult on technical matters.
He dropped by Korea to visit his family this year, and was arrested Jan. 19, three days prior to his scheduled return to China to help Changhong-Orion PDP-Chaihong install production equipment.
The technology Jeong sold can dramatically improve PDP production, enabling the taking of eight panels from a single glass. LG Electronics has been producing plasma panels with the new technology since July last year, and is only the third company to have it along with Samsung SDI and Matsushita of Japan.
Changhong-Orion PDP-Chaihong was formed after Changhong Electric of China bought Orion PDP of Korea in 2006 to acquire PDP technology. The Chinese company will start making plasma panels from this December with the LG technology that it bought from Jeong.