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Medical tech also targeted…researcher caught stealing robotic heart procedure technology

A police investigation has confirmed that a Chinese national working at a research center affiliated with a major hospital in Seoul stole a number of advanced medical robotics technologies.

The researcher was found to have handed over the stolen technology to the “Ten Thousand People Plan,” a talent recruitment project supported by the Chinese government.

Reporter Park Jung-hyun스포츠토토.

[Reporter]
This is a procedure assistant robot developed by a medical robotics research team affiliated with a major hospital in Seoul.

It is used in ‘cardiovascular interventional procedures’ to repair coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart by inserting thin wires when they are blocked or narrowed.

It’s a complex procedure that relies heavily on the skill of the surgeon, and this robot allows for precise control, increasing success rates.

After nearly 10 years of research and development, the robot was approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in February and is expected to be commercialized, with a market value of 600 billion won.

However, it turns out that the robot’s blueprints and more have fallen into Chinese hands.

A researcher, Mr. A, a Chinese national in his 40s who worked in the research team from 2015 to 2020, was found to have taken a large amount of related research materials around the time of his retirement.

Mr. A took the materials from the lab and submitted them to several Chinese-sponsored science and technology talent recruitment projects as if they were his own work.

As a result, Mr. A was selected by the Chinese government to participate in the “Thousand People Plan,” a program to attract top researchers from abroad to absorb cutting-edge science and technology, and set up a related entity in China.

[Baek Seo-in / Professor of Chinese Studies, Hanyang University: I will continue my efforts to attract overseas talents to China when I have the chance. If it’s a surgical robot, there’s patient data, and you can’t say that it’s 100% yours].

Then, in March, Mr. A was caught by the police, who had received intelligence from the National Intelligence Service while he was in South Korea briefly to sort out his life.

More than 10,000 pieces of stolen data were found on his laptop and cell phone, including many of the lab’s proprietary technologies.

The institute acknowledged the damage, but explained that it had continued to upgrade its technology since the breach and was now at a higher technological level than at the time.

However, Mr. A denies the allegations, saying that the data he submitted to the Ten Thousand People Plan was already publicly available.

Police banned Mr. A from leaving the country and handed the case over to prosecutors last week.

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