Kakao tops Hyundai in market cap as pandemic shakes up Korea Inc.

SEOUL — The coronavirus pandemic has shaken up South Korea’s ranking of biggest companies by market cap as technology companies rally thanks to increasing demand for contact-free life, while traditional manufacturers are struggling to cope with the sudden change.

Internet company Kakao, well-known for its chat app KakaoTalk, ranked ninth Monday among Kospi constituents by market capitalization, with 23.1 trillion won ($18.6 billion), while Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest automaker, dropped to 11th, with 20.4 trillion won in market cap. Kakao was the 22nd at the end of last year, while Hyundai Motor was the sixth at the time. Kakao’s

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South Korea harnesses tech prowess in coronavirus fight

SEOUL — If any country in the world was prepared to deal with the consequences of a socially distanced world, it was probably South Korea.

A big part of that preparedness comes down to having one of the world’s most advanced internet infrastructures. Last year it became one of the first countries to switch on fifth-generation mobile services, and its household internet penetration rate was top among OECD members in 2018, at 99.5%.

So when the coronavirus pandemic hit, many aspects of South Korean society — from education to business — shifted online with relative ease.

But even in digital-savvy

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Korea Inc. ditches Japan chipmaking materials for homegrown supply

SEOUL/OSAKA — South Korea’s chip and display makers have turned to homegrown chemicals to fill the vacuum after Tokyo imposed export curbs, which may deal a bigger blow to Japanese companies in the long run.

After being shut out of a crucial part of their supply chain, South Korean companies have had to seek other avenues to keep production levels humming. LG Display, the world’s leading producer of liquid crystal displays, began using etching gas produced by South Korea’s SoulBrain to manufacture panels in November.

LG had previously used an ultrapure etching gas solution imported from Japan’s Stella Chemifa and

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South Korea drops bill addressing wartime labor dispute with Japan

SEOUL — South Korean lawmakers on Wednesday quietly abandoned proposed legislation intended to resolve the wartime labor dispute that has erupted with Japan.

The two bills submitted to the National Assembly would have established a joint fund to compensate Koreans forced to work for Japanese companies during World War II. The idea received a degree of support from the Japanese side as well.

But neither bill was put up for debate. Members of the National Assembly met Wednesday for the final session of their term without discussing the legislation. Based on constitutional and procedural precepts, the bills will expire when

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