Sooam founder Hwang Woo-Suk was a national hero with his own postage stamp before being embroiled in controversy a decade ago after his claims to be the first in the world to clone a human embryo were discredited.
Hwang, who created Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog, in 2005, lost his university position, had two major papers retracted, and was accused of crimes ranging from violation of bioethics laws to embezzling research funds.
Earlier this year he was quoted in South Korea's Dong-A Ilbo newspaper saying that his firm was planning a cloning joint venture in China "because of South Korea's bioethics law that prohibits the use of human eggs".
"We have decided to locate the facilities in China in case we enter the phase of applying the technology to human bodies," he was quoted as saying.
For now, Xu seeks to become the world's first purveyor of "cloned" beef, breeding genetically identical super-cattle that he promises will taste like Kobe and allow butchers to "slaughter less and produce more" to meet the demands of China's booming middle class.
Cloning differs from genetic modification, but its application to animals would enable the firm to homogenise its output.
"Everything in the supermarket looks good –- it's almost all shiny, good-looking, and uniformly shaped. For animals, we weren't able to do that in the past. But with our cloning factory, we choose to do so now," Xu said.
"Remember, this is a food. We want it to be uniform, very consistent, very premium quality," he added.
There is controversy over whether cloned beef is safe for human consumption -- research by the US Food and Drug Adminstration says that it is, but the European parliament has backed a ban on cloned animals and products in the food chain.
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization has yet to review the issue.
Han Lanzhi, a GMO safety specialist at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said Boyalife's claims about the safety, scope and timeline of their operations were alarming -- and implausible.
"To get approval for the safety of cloned animals would be a very drawn-out process, so when I heard this news, I felt very surprised," she said.
"There must be strong regulation because as a company pursuing its own interests, they could very easily do other things in the future," she added.
Xu sought to be reassuring, telling AFP: "We want the public to see that cloning is really not that crazy, that scientists aren't weird, dressed in lab coats, hiding behind a sealed door doing weird experiments."