Today we were able to do our first company visit, got a tour of the Seoul City Hall, and then a second company visit. We woke up early because the ride was an hour long to Samsung BioLogics. Samsung BioLogics is an affiliate company of Samsung that focuses on bio pharmaceutical manufacturing. They describe themselves as a one stop CDMO service of manufacturing of drug substances and drug products. We were given a very interesting lecture from James Choi, the Chief Information Officer. He described how it is a leading manufacturer that is able to utilize its technology in semiconductor plants to create a very high quality and efficient plant for the creation of biological drugs. The plant was a state of the art place that was opened in 2011 and has some really cool technology. What the company can do and its level of success with creating biological drugs made me interested in bioengineering but not enough to actually switch departments. I had a great time at the company and was so fascinated with the technology that it made me excited for my future as an engineer.
We then went to the Seoul City Hall and was able to get a nice tour of the new and old building. The old building was built by the Japanese during their control of Korea and once Korea gained their independence most people wanted to tear it down but a small group argued for its historical importance and thus the building was saved. It has been restored and now serves as a library. The new building was extremely cool and had a really interesting design. The inside included a botanical garden that is currently the second biggest indoor botanical garden in the world. One of the purposes of it is to control the humidity because since the building is so tall the air can get dry on the bottom. The plants made it feel fresh inside but also overall pretty humid. I also really liked how the building had a glass exterior that bowed out on the top.
After the tour we jumped back on the bus and went to the Seoul Global Startup Center. The Seoul Global Startup Center is a program that is sponsored by the Korean government to incentives new startups and help them from the early stages. Since starting a company is extremely hard the center offers the tools necessary to actually make a real company and if the company keeps being successful they keep getting funding. It has a very select application process though and it currently has about 40 startups that work there. What was very cool about this is that our tour guide actually had a startup there and after three years he was not allowed back because of how successful it got and so they wanted to make room for new ones that needed more help. He created a Korean app that is basically Uber for tour guides, which personally I thought was extremely clever. The government is hoping for more successful companies to start in Korea because currently Samsung is responsible for 25% of Korea’s GDP. This is a worry for the government because if Samsung goes down then the countries economy will struggle. Overall there was several new technology companies and one was an app and trash can that incentivizes people to throw trash by giving them rewards when they throw something out. It was a busy day and we did not get back to the hotel until around 6. For dinner a group of us when to dinner with Dr. Yun. He very kindly offered us very delicious Korean fried chicken. Afterwards we went into Hongdae because of its popularity with the young adults in Korea since there is a university right near it. After a long and busy day it was time to call it a night and I could not wait to get in bed.