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New Leadership Spotlight: SK hynix’s Youngest Exec, Lee Donghun, Discusses Spearheading NAND Flash Development

By February 14, 2024 April 4th, 2024 No Comments

SK hynix's Youngest Exec, Lee Donghun, Discusses Spearheading NAND Flash Development

SK hynix’s executive team just got younger. As part of efforts to foster young leadership, Lee Donghun was appointed to the N-S Committee1 at the end of 2023 to become SK hynix’s youngest-ever executive.

1N-S Committee: SK hynix’s strategic unit formed at the beginning of 2024 that fortifies its NAND flash and solution businesses.

Born in 1983, Lee is a young talent who finished his master’s and doctoral studies after participating in SK hynix’s scholarship program in 2006. He joined the company in 2011 and played a key role in the development and evolution of 4D NAND. Lee led the Technological Strategy team for the 128- and 176-layer NAND flash before working as the head of the Performance and Reliability (PnR) team for the 238-layer NAND flash, contributing significantly to establishing SK hynix’s 4D NAND as the industry standard.

As part of the newsroom’s interview series with newly appointed executives, Lee spoke about the future of NAND flash development and his aspirations as a leader.

Flexibility is Crucial in Times of Change

Lee anticipates reaching new heights in NAND flash technology by adopting a flexible approach

Lee anticipates reaching new heights in NAND flash technology by adopting a flexible approach


Lee emphasized the importance of rapid and flexible responses to the rapidly changing technological landscape following the advent of the AI era.

“Advances in technology are rapidly changing people’s lives, so responding to these changes will be critical for companies’ future,” he said. “A good comparison is the emergence and subsequent impact of the internet and smartphones.”

The N-S Committee is an example of SK hynix’s response to lead this changed business environment. As generative AI and other applications need to store ever-growing amounts of data, NAND flash requires assistance from NAND solutions. Accordingly, the N-S Committee will act as a control tower to optimize the NAND flash and NAND solution businesses simultaneously and strengthen the company’s competitiveness by increasing development efficiency and customer satisfaction.

“In order to respond flexibly when new technologies emerge, all related divisions need to constantly share information and collaborate,” Lee said. “Consequently, collaboration between the NAND flash and NAND solutions developments is not optional but necessary if we want to speed up the process of developing products desired by our customers. As a new executive, I plan to make such collaborations even more efficient.”

Beyond 4D NAND: The NAND Flash Revolution in the AI Era

Lee believes that further development in NAND flash technology holds the key to leading the AI era

Lee believes that further development in NAND flash technology holds the key to leading the AI era


Lee expressed his excitement about working on the world’s highest 321-layer 4D NAND to ensure the product’s performance, reliability, and quality.

“The 321-layer 4D NAND we’re developing is set to be a new milestone in the industry with its superior performance, and that’s why our role is so important,” Lee said. “For this product, it’s not just about performance, it’s also about ensuring reliability. If we focus only on rapidly increasing demand, there are potential risks to quality and reliability. Our short-term goal is to finish development and deliver products as quickly as possible while minimizing risks.”

Lee stressed that, in the long run, the company needs to continue innovating by taking on new challenges.

“Until now, the key to NAND flash development has been to improve cost-effectiveness,” he said. “That’s why we’ve seen 2D and 3D NAND in the past, followed by 4D NAND. Now that we’re in the midst of a transformation, NAND needs to innovate in multiple directions.”

Lee also emphasized the need to focus on the data explosion expected across various fields.

“As the number of sectors utilizing AI technology expands, there will also be an increase in data generation,” Lee explained. “In the automotive space alone, data related to roads and traffic for autonomous driving is rapidly growing. Depending on the type of device or environment which generates data, the standards and conditions required from NAND flash products may evolve drastically. It will be my job to anticipate these changes in the industry and lead proactive innovations, ensuring SK hynix continues its technological leadership.”

Building Empathy With Employees Pivotal in Overcoming Challenges

Lee sees team effort as the answer to overcoming unexpected challenges

Lee sees team effort as the answer to overcoming unexpected challenges


Lee also sees tailwinds blowing in the semiconductor industry today as he predicts that NAND flash, like DRAM, will go on an upward direction in 2024. However, he predicted that there will be vast innovations in various technological fields that will create more challenges for SK hynix employees.

“In the midst of so many challenges, it is important that our members understand why we need to overcome these obstacles while finding the right motivation to continue progressing,” he said. “At the end of the day, the company and its people need to be on the same page to achieve a common goal.”

Even in his New Year’s greeting to his team members, Lee emphasized the need to pay attention to pivotal changes in the technological space and flexibly respond to situations.

“The semiconductor memory market is on the upswing in 2024, and I think we can greet this upturn with a smile as we faced a lot of adversity. However, there are still challenges ahead,” Lee explained. “Especially as we are expecting the launch of next-generation NAND flash products this year, I will do my best to help the company navigate this period of drastic transformation. We hope to accomplish various goals in 2024.”


<Other articles from this series>

New Leadership Spotlight: SK hynix’s First Female Research Fellow, Vice President Oh Haesoon, on Advancing NAND Flash

New Leadership Spotlight: Vice President Kitae Kim, Head of HBM Sales & Marketing, on Future-Proofing HBM’s Market Leadership

New Leadership Spotlight: Vice President Hoyoung Son Targets SK hynix’s Evolution Into Total AI Memory Provider Through Advanced Packaging Tech

Leadership Spotlight: Deoksin Kil, Head of Material Development, On Achieving Tech Innovation Through Advanced Materials

New Leadership Spotlight: Head of HBM PI Unoh Kwon Aims to Finish SK hynix’s HBM Roadmap & Lead in the AI Era