Korean Panel Industry Affected Little by Earthquake, Says TrendForce

At 2:29 p.m. on November 15 of South Korea's local time (1:29 p.m. of Taiwan's local time), a 5.5-magnitude shock struck Korea's east coast. The epic center is located at 9 kilometers north to Pohang City, North Gyeongsang Province. Its depth was about 9 kilometers deep. About this surprising incident in Korea, WitsView, a division of TrendForce, analyzed that it influenced very little to the entire panel industry.

(Image: LG Display)

From SDC's perspective, after it shut down Fab L6 in September 2017, the only LCD fabs left in Korea are Fab L7-2, Fab L8-1, and Fab 8-2 in Tangjeong city. When LCD machines detect the quake, they will automatically pause the entire production lines. According to WitsView, this tremor led to partial SDC machines to temporarily pause. The pause time and restart time of machines totaled only 1~2 hours. Therefore, its influence toward capacity will not be huge.

LGD's Gen. 7 and Gen. 8.5 are in Paju city which is far away from epic center, so these fabs are not influenced by the quake. As to Fab P5 and Fab P6-2 in Gumi city, they are closer to the epic center. In particular, Fab P5 mainly manufactures NB panels. Fab P6-2 primarily produces 65" TV panels. Even though these two fabs were temporarily paused due to this quake, they will not impact much to panel supply for the following two reasons. First, in November, brands' traditional peak period for stocking up has passed. Next, panel makers have inventories at safe levels for accidents like this.

After iPhone X is launched, OLED panel draws attentions and triggers wide discussions. There are many OLED fabs of two major panel makers in Korea. All of SDC's and LGD's fabs are not impacted by the quake at the time of publishing the news, including: LGD's Gen. 8.5 fab in Paju city that produces OLED TV panels. Another two LGD fabs including Fab AP2 (Gen. 4.5) and Fab E5 (Gen. 6) are both in Gumi city. Also, SDC's three fabs: Fab A2 (Gen. 5.5), Fab A3 (Gen. 6) and soon-to-enter-mass-production-phase Fab A4 (Gen. 6) are in Tangjeong city. Because Korean panel makers are the major suppliers for OLED panels, the future supply status needs careful observations.

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