Our day started at 9 AM with a bus ride to our first company visit, Samsung BioLogics. As seen by the name, they are a part of the Samsung conglomerate here in South Korea. Samsung is so large here that it makes up 25 percent of the total GDP of South Korea. The BioLogics branch of the company that we visited acts a contract manufacturer for drug companies, specifically biological drugs. These differ from normal drugs, because “biologics” as they are called are derived and made from living organisms, whereas normal drugs like acetaminophen are made through the chemical synthesis of non living molecules. Samsung Biologics was only recently founded (2011), but they already have three massive buildings in which they produce the drugs, and are one of the major forces in the biologics industry. When we visited, we were given the opportunity to tour the facility and be given a presentation by the Chief Information Officer James Choi.
After a great lunch of tofu stew we went to visit Seoul City hall. We got to see both the new city hall and the old city hall. The old city hall was built back in 1925 during the Japanese occupation of the peninsula, and the new city hall was built with a modern design in 2005. It was very cool to tour both of these buildings, because much of them are actually open to the public, which is very different from many government buildings in the US. We got to go on top of the old city hall, which was turned into a public garden, and see the great view of the city it offered:
The third and final stop of the day was the Seoul Global Startup Center. This company is sponsored by the Seoul city government, and works as a catalyst for people who want to found a startup. The center provides funding, direction, and office space to people with good startup ideas. There is a tough application process, and they usually accept around 30 groups from all over the world each year. It was very interesting to see this global reach aspect of the program.