Microsoft has announced that its research and development (R&D) workforce based in South Korea will be disbanded by the end of next month.
According to The Korea Herald on Tuesday, citing a Microsoft Korea official, the company's headquarters decided late last year to base its Asia R&D workforce in Beijing, and the 21 R&D employees in Seoul were ordered to relocate.
At the moment, 10 R&D workers based in the Seoul office have received orders to work at the software giant's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, but positions for the remaining 11 are still undecided. The employees have the option to work at another department in Seoul, or transfer to the firm's support programs, such as career consulting or recruitment.
"The R&D team was an organization that was under the U.S. headquarters, and it also had a direct report line to [Redmond]," the Microsoft official said. "We believe it will not have much of an impact in our operations here since it did not belong to the Korean branch in the first place."
The R&D workforce in Korea had been in charge of localizing Microsoft software, such as Microsoft Windows or Office, until 2000, but began taking on duties involving technology cooperation and support with other Korean firms as the Redmond headquarters took care of the language aspect with its language packs.
Microsoft dissolving its R&D unit comes after a series of exits by global technology companies from South Korea. Last year saw Internet giant Yahoo withdrawing from the market to streamline its operations, while Motorola Mobility and HTC also close their doors in South Korea for similar reasons.
South Korean users are especially discerning and opt for local brands, due to their ability to integrate and collaborate in the ecosystem, making it hard for global firms to compete in the market, according to industry watchers in an earlier report.