April 1 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he was proud of local firm Kolon Industries for completely replacing a restricted Japanese chemical, according to a press report.
South Korean news service Newsis reported Wednesday that Moon visited the manufacturing plant of Kolon Industries to thank the company for ramping up production of antiviral gear. South Korea was one of the first countries outside China to experience a massive outbreak of COVID-19. Conditions may be stabilizing as widespread testing has prevented infections from taking place on a greater scale, according to Seoul.
On Wednesday, Moon described firms like Kolon as models of cooperation; the country has experienced a shortage of face masks that may slowly be subsiding.
Moon also mentioned Japan's export controls during his visit to the plant in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province. Last year, after Japan tightened export regulations for three materials, fluorinated polyimide, hydrogen fluoride and resists -- used to make semiconductors, flat-screen TVs and smartphones in Korea -- Moon had called for the localization of chemical production in order to achieve technical independence from Japan, according to Newsis.
Park Hyo-jun, a research scientist at Kolon, told Moon during his visit the company's production of fluorinated polyimide has enabled South Korea's industries to become completely self-sufficient in the area.
"I am even more proud we were able to localize fluorinated polyimide and replace Japanese imports, because pre-emptive efforts were taken even before Japan's export control measures went into effect last year," Moon told Kolon employees.
"Wasn't this fluorinated polyimide something we were worried about, because of Japan's export controls?"
Japan took restrictive measures after South Korea supported compensation for Korean forced laborers during World War II.
Tensions are rising again between the two sides this week after Japan decided to ban the entry of travelers from South Korea, according to Yonhap.
Tokyo is banning entry for people from South Korea, the United States and China.