UPDATE : Tuesday, November 19, 2019
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Self-claimed Korea Otsuka employee causes stir on far-right website
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.07.15 15:57
  • Updated 2019.07.15 15:57
  • comments 0

A “self-proclaimed” Korea Otsuka Pharmaceutical employee is stirring up controversy by posting messages aimed to belittle the Korean pharmaceutical industry, on an ultra-right website, called the Ilbe Storage.

The self-claimed Korea Otsuka Pharmaceutical employee poses his hand to resemble the hand symbol frequented by Ilbe Storage over what he alleged as the company’s business card. (Screen captured from Ilbe Storage)

The postings came at a time when the relationship between Korea and Japan is rapidly spiraling downward due to Japan’s imposition of export restrictions on hi-tech materials crucial for manufacturing semiconductors and display panels by Korean companies

The export control has prompted the boycott campaign of Japanese products and travels among Koreans. A recent survey conducted by Realmeter showed that 66.8 percent of Koreans they would join the don’t-buy drive.

Contrary to such sentiment, members of Ilbe Storage have been conducting the “Use Japanese product” campaign, where users post a picture of them drinking Japanese beers, making travel plans to Japan and buying cars manufactured by Japanese companies.

One of the most controversial posts was one made by the alleged employee at Korea Otsuka Pharmaceutical, the Korean offshoot of the Japanese drugmaker.

The user posted the picture of a Korea Otsuka Pharmaceutical business card with the hand symbol frequented by the far-right website and some photos of a laboratory, which he claimed was the research lab of Korea Otsuka Pharmaceutical.

Pictures that the would-be Korea Otsuka Pharmaceutical employee claimed were taken inside the company's laboratory. (Screen captured from Ilbe Storage)

“Korean pharmaceutical companies have only been researching how to stamp out generic drugs and have nothing else to show for,” the user wrote. “The fact is our company is generating similar sales to that of a local midsized company with a blockbuster incrementally modified drug.”

A Korea Otsuka Pharmaceutical spokesperson denied that the far-right user works for the company, however.

“After investigating into the matter, we have concluded that the pictures were not taken in our company,” the spokesperson told Korea Biomedical Review on Monday. “The business card he posted on the website is not ours, either.”

Despite the company’s explanation, the post has raised criticism on the web as netizens are calling for a boycott on the company’s non-pharmaceutical products such as UL-OS, a shampoo brand, and Nature Made, a vitamin product.

Netizens are also urging citizens not to buy products manufactured by Dong-A Otsuka, a joint venture between Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Dong-A Socio Holdings, which sells renowned beverages such as Pocari Sweat, a sports drink, and Oronamin C, a vitamin drink.

It is unlikely, however, the boycott will cause severe damages on Korea Otsuka Pharmaceutical as the company mainly focuses on ethical drugs -- drugs that are available only with written instructions from a doctor or a dentist to a pharmacist, industry officials said.

Last year, the company ranked fourth in sales among Korean branches of Japanese pharmaceutical companies after recording sales of 161.7 billion won ($137.1 million), an 8.8 percent increase from the previous year.


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