President Moon Jae-in, right, and Hyosung Chairman Cho Hyun-joon take a 3D printed carbon fiber electric vehicle at Hyosung`s Jeonju plant on Aug. 20. Courtesy of Hyosung Group

Chairman Cho Hyun-joon spearheads aggressive investment

Carbon fiber, which is composed mostly of carbon atoms, refers to a state-of-the-art substance whose diameter is less than 10 micrometers. It has many advantages such as high stiffness and low weight.

After recognizing the high potential of carbon fiber, the world has competed to develop the material, which is eventually expected to replace steel.

Korea is a latecomer to the carbon-fiber sector, which explains why the country still lags behind when it comes to competitiveness in manufacturing carbon fiber.

However, a conglomerate here has put forth great efforts to develop carbon fiber. It is Hyosung Group, which churns out the advanced material in its factory in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province.

The Seoul-based group succeeded with localized production of carbon fiber in 2011 and started mass production two years later.

The demands for the key material, which is used for hydrogen-fueled vehicles, wind-power generation and defense industry, keep rising. For example, its exports are growing by more than 20 percent per annum.

Against this backdrop, Hyosung plans to invest 1 trillion won ($820 million) over the next decade to expand its production line in Jeonju, some 240 kilometers south of Seoul.

Its unit Hyosung Advanced Materials is set to lead the bold investment, which will enable the Jeonju factory to roll out 24,000 tons of carbon fiber every year beginning in 2028.

Currently, the Jeonju plant makes 2,000 tons from a single line per year for the global market share of 2 percent. Hyosung strives to jack up the number to 10 over the next 10 years for a double-digit market share.

After finishing the 10-10 project, Hyosung, which is spearheaded by Chairman Cho Hyun-joon, would become the world’s No. 3 manufacturer of carbon fiber.

Company officials said the decision is in line with the management philosophy of Chairman Cho, who has iterated the significance of aggressive investment to make Hyosung’s presence felt in the global market.

President Moon Jae-in visited the Jeonju plant on August 20 to recognize Hyosung’s efforts. He expressed his gratitude to Chairman Cho for their efforts over carbon fibers.

Hyosung made a bold decision to invest with a strong determination to break away from its dependence on foreign suppliers for advanced materials and to achieve self-sufficiency,” Moon said.

It has a significant meaning for a private-sector corporation to boldly make preemptive investments in the sector of carbon fiber, a key advanced material.”

Moon promised that his administration will actively support Hyosung in its resolute implementation of the bold challenges it has taken on.

Today’s investment signing ceremony will be a starting point for us to step up as a powerhouse in terms of advanced materials,” he said. “I look forward to seeing many more materials and parts businesses invigorate their investments all across the country.”

In response, Chairman Cho noted that Hyosung will continue to invest in the material to help the country strengthen its competitiveness in the related businesses.

Having its potential in mind, Hyosung began to develop carbon fiber exclusively. As the potential of carbon fiber is infinite, we will take part in the efforts to make Korea a material powerhouse,” the charismatic businessman said.


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