In a strategic manoeuvre to capture the burgeoning market for bendable glass, Corning Incorporated has chosen South Korea as its central hub for the entire production process of this innovative material. Wendell Weeks, Corning’s CEO, cited the longstanding partnership with Samsung Electronics and particularly his relationship with its Chairman, Lee Jae-yong, as pivotal factors in the decision. Weeks is set to meet with Samsung executives, including Chairman Lee, on September 1 to further discussions on extending the collaboration.
The announcement was part of a commemorative press conference held at Seoul’s Shilla Hotel on August 31, celebrating Corning’s 50-year presence in South Korea.
“Corning’s initial foray into South Korea in 1973 came at the behest of the late Samsung Chairman Lee Byeong-cheol, who proposed collaboration in the consumer electronics sector,” said Weeks. “This long-term alliance has informed our decision to establish the bendable glass supply chain here.”
Bendable glass, primarily utilised in foldable devices, has seen Samsung Electronics adopt Corning’s Ultra-Thin Glass (UTG) for its next-generation foldable smartphones. Corning’s UTG technology made its debut in the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Fold 5 series, launched in July.
“We intend to allocate part of our previously announced $1.5 billion investment towards building a robust bendable glass ecosystem in Korea,” stated Weeks, noting that Corning already employs approximately 3,000 individuals in the country.
Corning’s vision extends beyond immediate market demands; the company commits to engaging in comprehensive Research & Development (R&D) operations in Korea. “Even as bendable glass finds its global footing, the nucleus of innovation will remain in Korea,” Weeks pledged, reaffirming the company’s intention for sustained investment.
The move illustrates how Corning is aligning its corporate strategy with geopolitical partnerships and technological synergies, positioning South Korea as the nerve centre for the evolving bendable glass sector. It also offers a case study in how decades-long partnerships can fortify corporate strategies, shaping the trajectory of next-generation technologies.