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[Photo News] Top Korean biopharma rivals boast friendship

Celltrion Chairman Seo Jung-jin (left) and Samsung Biologics CEO Kim Tae-han were locked in a warm embrace in front of reporters at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference 2020 on Wednesday at Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.

(Lim Jeong-yeo/The Korea Herald)
(Lim Jeong-yeo/The Korea Herald)

Seo and Kim, the heads of Korea’s leading biopharmaceuticals firms, said that despite the aura of competition that is often portrayed, they are actually close friends. Their relationship dates back to the early days when both of them were working at Samsung Electronics when they started out as salaried workers.

Seo reportedly still refers to Kim as “sunbae,” meaning a senior colleague, while Kim returns the etiquette in calling Seo “chairman,” noting Seo’s position as the owner of a business group.

Celltrion and Samsung Biologics are key players in the Korean biopharma industry.

With Samsung Biologics’ record-breaking 364,000-liter production capacity at its three plants, combined with Celltrion’s 190,000-liter capacity, the Korean biocluster of Songdo, Incheon, is the world’s biggest biologics manufacturing site in a single city.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (