Motorola Mobility is to close down almost all of its operations in South Korea next year as its reorganization under the ownership of Google continues. The phone maker will keep 10 percent of its local R&D staff, who will be offered relocation packages. Two business units will remain but the company will cease selling and marketing mobile devices.

The announcement is part of the company’s global reshuffle which has seen it layoff approximately 4,000 employees and close down of most of its international websites less than a month ago. Korea was one of the few places to have a Motorola Mobility research and design center, and this will also close, as the company confirmed in a statement to TNW:

On December 10th, we began communicating to staff in Korea our plans to close most of our operations in Korea, including our research and development and consumer mobile device marketing organization. The changes in Korea reflect our plans to consolidate our global R&D efforts to foster collaboration, and to focus more attention on markets where we are best positioned to compete effectively.

Our Home business and iDEN go-to-market operations will continue operating in Korea. We will also continue to provide customer service and warranty support for mobile devices that have been sold in Korea.

This was a difficult but necessary decision. We are very proud of the work done by our talented teams in Korea, and the many contributions they have made to our business over the years. We will offer relocation to about 10 percent of our R&D staff there. For other employees we will strive to make the transition as smooth as possible.

We are grateful for the support of our customers in Korea.

Motorola Mobility was unable to confirm the exact number of redundancies, and a spokesperson said:

We’re not releasing numbers or any further specifics at this time, but the 10 percent refers to R&D staff, which is the majority of staff, though not all.

The company saw its prime in 2006 with its popular RAZR phone which sold 200 million units worldwide. However, with the introduction of app-centric smartphones, Motorola Mobility’s share in the market dropped and led to its purchase by Google in May.

Motorola Mobility isn’t alone in fleeing Korea, where local firms largely dominate the mobile market. Recently, rival phone maker HTC closed its offices in South Korea as Samsung, Apple and LG phones continue to hold the most sizable market share. Local media suggests there are around 40,000 of its handsets actively in use in Korea, through operators SK Telecom and KT.

October saw Yahoo announce plans to withdraw from Korea. The move will see 200 jobs lost and cost the online giant $94 million.

Andy Tebay (of TNW partner blog VentureSquare) contributed to this report.

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