DECODED X is more than just news.
It’s a weekly brief of critical political and economic events in Korea and their takeaway, created by The Investor staff for an exclusive group of opinion leaders.
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In the meantime, enjoy the highlights of the Sept. 15 issue of DECODED X.
IF IT WALKS A LIKE DUCK, TALKS LIKE A DUCK
It turns out, the secretary-general of an NGO that surveyed toxic materials in female sanitary pads had benefited from a leadership course funded by Yuhan-Kimberly.
This could be a problem as it adds to suspicions that Yuhan-Kimberly and the NGO, and also the university professor who surveyed the pads, were colluding.
When the survey results first came out, those manufactured by Kleannara brand were catapulted into the spotlight for their high toxic content. But later, it turned out that it wasn’t just Kleannara, but also Yuhan-Kimberly, P&G and other high-profile companies.
Yuhan-Kimberly claims all this is nothing but a misunderstanding.
With Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong behind bars, the group is trying to create an illusion that all that happened at Korea’s top conglomerate was orchestrated by Choi Gee-sung, who was sentenced to four years for his role in the Choi Soon-sil Gate.
Earlier, Samsung did its best to create a distance between Choi and Lee due to speculations that former was the scion’s “career coach” as he couldn’t do anything by himself.
Now, things are reversed, and Samsung is trying prove Choi was indeed the coach who led Lee into temptation. That it was all the former’s doing.
Meanwhile, sources say Samsung had already been planning to disassemble the Future Strategy team this year, before the corruption scandal surfaced.
WE DIDN’T KNOW WE WERE SO BIG
McDonald’s Korea has been in hot water for a while, first due to the little girl who allegedly got the “hamburger disease” after eating at one of its outlet, and then research showing some of its burgers were infested with food poisoning bacteria. This was followed by allegations that its popular bulgogi burgers were causing enteritis.
While the criticism piled up, McDonald’s had remained more or less silent, refusing to issue a statement.
Turns out, company officials couldn’t agree because they were scratching their heads on whether McDonald’s was big and global enough to put out an official statement.
Meanwhile, it looks like McDonald’s Korea won’t be sold to a private equity fund, the firm strategic partner, and they won’t find it in a PEF.
STILL THE RED TAPE
One of the craziest things about doing business in Korea is the red tape, according to a LOT of people.
It also goes for accelerators for startups and venture companies, which have a tough time setting up funds to finance their latest pet projects.
The biggest issue is, surprisingly, about who runs the funds. There are a billion standards for who can do this, such as they have to have had fund managing experience, and at least one lawyer or accountant should be included.
In the end, accelerators, such as the largest SparkLabs, end up setting up shop overseas. But even this doesn’t go down well, because offshore funds are always looked at with doubtful eyes.
THAAD OR NO THAAD
While Beijing continues to sulk over THAAD, Korean pharmaceutical companies are looking for a way to edge into the Chinese market.
China is the world’s factory, but it ain’t the easiest place to do business in, and the same goes for the pharma industry.
To sell meds in China, manufacturers have to pass local clinical trials. But to do this, the products have to be made in China, and not elsewhere. And we know while it may not be too hard to build factories there, it involves plenty of risks and costs.
Smaller global pharma companies appear to be fed up with this, and in their place, Korean firms that recently have been gaining on their global rivals in the biosimilar industry with the likes of Celltrion and Samsung Biologics, are trying to put their foot in the door.
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