Ex-Samsung exec cites ‘friendship’ for joining Chinese rival – then quits

In a textbook example of bad timing, former Samsung China CEO decided to join one of his ex-employer’s top Chinese rivals just as those very same competitors were facing increased scrutiny over trade secret theft allegations. A company veteran of 30 years, Jang Won-ki helmed Samsung’s operations in China from 2011 to 2017, following a two-year stint at the helm of its LCD business. Last week, he joined Beijing Eswin Computing Technology, one of Samsung Display’s top competitors in the panel manufacturing space.

In a subsequent newspaper interview, Jang said he was merely brought on to advise and wouldn’t be leading Eswin’s R&D efforts, thus concluding Samsung’s trade secrets were perfectly safe with him. A semiconductor engineer by trade, the 66-year-old further added he primarily joined Eswin due to his friendship with founder Wang Dongsheng, who is also the founder of BOE Technology Group.

Public outcry forces his resignation

None of that stopped the public outrcry over the move in South Korea, which ultimately prompted Jang to quit, local media reported earlier reported. Sources close to the former Samsung exec claim he categorized the controversy as a large misunderstanding and hopes his resignation will help smooth things over. He was originally given the position of Eswin Vice Chairman and is the shortest-tenured executive in the company’s history following this episode.

South Korea’s crackdown on Chinese trade secret theft has been intensifying in recent years, especially as many consumer electronics segments are now suffering from extreme saturation. Even Samsung’s relations with traditionally much friendlier American companies are currently… complicated, to put it mildly. Ultimately, expect more drama over executive poaching and corporate espionage allegations to emerge from the Far East in the near future.

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