W(hy)TF are Japan and South Korea in a trade war?

Another week, another trade war. And unlike most trade wars these days, this one didnt originate from the confines of the Rose Garden with the Marine One whirlybird in the background. No, like any Ice Bucket Challenge-worthy meme, others are getting in on the trade war bandwagon and making it their own.
Cue Japan and South Korea. The two countries have slipped into their own trade war over the past few weeks, a conflict that now threatens the foundations of Japans supplier industry, Samsung Electronics, and global smartphone and computer shipments.
But why a trade conflict? If the U.S./China trade war emanates from the dark recesses of President Trumps brain, then this new trade war emanates from the dark chapters of Japan and South Koreas collective and sad history.
One of the saddest of those chapters is the plight of Korean comfort women women who were forced into sexual slavery by wartime Japan in the 1930s and 1940s to service soldiers throughout the Japanese empire. Given the dates of those atrocities, many of those women are now reaching the late stages of their lives, as are men who were impressed into wartime labor in Japanese factories to fight the Allies.
Late last year, Koreas highest court ordered Mitsubishi to pay essentially reparations for the companys use of slave labor throughout the Japanese occupation and World War II, a decision that mirrored the courts earlier judgment against Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal a few weeks before.
As the Korean court system has attempted to claw back those reparations from Japanese companies, Japan has not sat still. The countrys prime minister Shinzo Abe and his government have responded by placing a broad trade embargo on South Korea of high-technology goods under national security grounds, arguing that Seoul has failed to find a path forward to mend the fences between the two countries.
This past week, the two countries met to try to resolve the tensions, but failed to agree on a solution. That leaves the export bans in place, jeopardizing the supply chains for many electronics products.
Take Samsung Electronics for instance. The Korean company is the number one manufacturer of memory DRAM chips, accounting for more than 40% of the nearly $100 billion market, and also the number one manufacturer of NAND flash chips, with 35% share. SK Hynix another Korean company was the second largest manufacturer of DRAM chips with a roughly 31% share. Samsung and other Korean manufacturers are also market leading in industries like semiconductors and LCD displays.
Koreas electronics companies have deep supply chains in Japan, which produce everything from photoresist chemicals and materials for semiconductors to the actual manufacturing equipment and parts required to operate factories. Thus, Japans trade embargo was expected to compromise two of Koreas leading manufacturers, a punch to Koreas fragile economy and a wake-up call for President Moon to reach a compromise with Prime Minister Abe.
Except, as often happens in the wacky world of trade, the export ban had unexpectedly positive consequences.
An anticipated glut of DRAM memory chips this year had pushed prices to new lows, slashing profits at Samsung Electronics in the companys worst drop in four years. The companys stock has been battered: from August last year until January, the company lost a third of its value.

Samsung sees Q1 profit plummet 60%
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