The Korean chemical industry has been one of the heavy industrial sectors to boost Korean economy during the past three decades. In the early 2010s, the Korean chemical firms faced significant challenges due to global overcapacity and rising competition from China and Middle East countries. The current downturn of Korean chemical industry comes from internal factors on strategic choice, not from global business cycle. In September of 2016, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy recommended the necessity of cutting the production of four items - Terephthalic acid(TPA), polystyrene(PS), synthetic rubber(SBR) and PVC. Meanwhile, in 1959, Japan, known as the Triad with the US and Western Europe controlled the global chemical industry. However, by the 1990s, with the emergence and growth of companies based in Korea, Taiwan and China, Japan struggled through a lost decade that continued into the 2000s. Although Japanese chemical companies have lagged behind companies in the West in adjusting to new business realities, many companies have already taken significant steps to increase their competitive advantage through restructuring, consolidation and new research. Industry level change inevitably requires a company to fundamentally rethink its strategy and business model. What is the value strategy for the Korean chemical firms to sustain their competitive advantages under uncertainty associated with a strategic infection point (SIP)? A SIP is a critical period during which major threats as well as new opportunities come about. This paper addresses this key question by examining the following issues. Firstly, our study diagnoses whether the current chemical industry in Korea and Japan confronts a SIP on the basis of adapted seven forces model consisting of market forces - the five forces framework of traditional industry analysis and complementors - as well as nonmarket forces associated with technology and government regulation. Secondly, we examine the different adaptation strategies between the most profitable and non-profitable chemical companies in Korea and Japan in light of segment portfolio and R&D using case studies. Lastly, we conduct an empirical study to classify Korean and Japanese chemical companies into three groups by application of cluster analysis. Segment portfolio and R&D are of interest as independent variables because they have been linked to value creation, whereas operating income, as a dependent variable is an external signal to indicate each firm`s financial performance. The data set used in descriptive statistics and cluster analysis comes from DART (Data Analysis, Retrieval and Transfer System) and annual reports of 44 Korean and Japanese chemical firms from 2000 to 2016. Our results show that there exists a significant gap of operating income among three groups, i.e. a high performance group makes known by diversifying segment portfolio into high value-added specialty materials with strong R&D capability. This group consists of most Japanese firms specialized in chemical materials. However, no Korean firm was found there. Our findings suggest that Korean chemical firms are called for in the process of strategic transformation to improve portfolio with value-added specialty by enhancing in-house R&D capability and acquiring specialty business. In order to step out of the pending crisis, Korean chemical companies should shift their growth strategy paradigm in the global market. A SIP signals the timing to change. Transformation involves rapidly and radically changing each firm`s strategy. A key task of top management is to recognize ambiguous and conflicting signals of a SIP, adapt to a new business model and develop new value strategy. Their new resolve must be followed by changes in resource allocation. It is expected that this study can be applied to other heavy industries, e.g. shipbuilding, automobile and steel that underpinned Korea`s past growth.