Korean pharma’s young scions rise in ranks

By Lim Jeong-yeo
  • Published : Feb 27, 2019 - 16:02
  • Updated : Feb 28, 2019 - 11:34

Younger members of the ownership families of domestic pharma firms are emerging in the public eye with wider involvement in management.

Celltrion founder and Chairman Seo Jung-jin’s 32-year-old second son Seo Joon-serk is the latest such case. Seo will be promoted to director of the operation management department, effective Friday, according to the company. Seo joined the company in 2017. Celltrion said Seo will support and oversee the operations of biopharma production at plants. Seo’s older brother Seo Jin-seok, 35, has been senior vice president for Celltrion since 2017. 

Celltrion scion Seo Jin-seok, 35, has been senior vice president for Celltrion since 2017. (Celltrion)

In their latest public outing, the brothers accompanied their father to the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco in January.

Local industry watchers have noted the trend of scions of Korean pharma firm owners, most of them in their 30s, being promoted to management roles in recent years.

Midsized pharma firms such as Ilsung Pharmaceuticals and Daewon Pharmaceutical have also assigned young, third-generation scions to the front lines of management.

Ilsung Pharmaceuticals, founded in 1954 by Chairman Yoon Byoung-kang, has the founder’s son, Yoon Suk-keun, as vice chairman. Second son Yoong Jong-wook, 33, is co-president starting this year, after four years of training at the company. First son Yoon Jong-ho is also a director.

Daewon Pharmaceuticals, established in 1958, has promoted its chairman’s first son Baek In-hwan, 35, to managing director of the marketing team from the start of this year. Baek entered the company in 2011 as a new recruit on the marketing team.

Currently, Daewon is being co-run by founder and former Chairman Baek Boo-hyeon’s first son, Chairman Baek Seung-ho, and second son, Vice Chairman Baek Seung-ryel.

Dong Wha Pharm has President Yoon Doh-joon’s daughter and son, 39-year-old Yoon Hyun-Kyung and 35-year-old Yoon In-Ho, as managing directors.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won’s eldest child, Chey Yun-jeong, 29, is part of SK Biopharmaceuticals’ Strategy team, although she has yet to step up to an executive role.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (