People pass by Samsung Electronics' shop in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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The craze for smartphones, social media and universal connectivity is generating immense wealth but also deep unease in South Korea, source of a large share of the computer chips that make them work.Samsung reported Wednesday that its annual net profit rose 84 percent to a record 41.3 trillion won ($38.6 billion) in 2017 on annual sales of 239.6 trillion won ($223.7 billion), up 19 percent from the previous year.In 2017, Samsung and SK Hynix had combined revenues totaling 270 trillion won ($251.5 billion), equivalent to about 17 percent of South Korea's GDP.Led by robust exports of computer chips, the South Korean economy in 2017 expanded at its fastest rate in three years and is forecast to grow 3 percent this year.The net increase of jobs among all semiconductor companies – Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and 53 others listed in South Korean stock markets – was about 4,000 people during the first half of 2017, the Bank of Korea estimates.In 2018, semiconductor exports will be the single pillar driving South Korea's growth.
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