An alternative to cybernetics for many, genetic engineering is extremely popular in the Chaebol and occasionally utilized elsewhere.
Most gene mods are fairly minor, and show no cosmetic change to the individual. They increase the net health of the person, making them overall improved as a person. However, more exotic augments exist, ranging from things that make a person so powerful that they are effectively weaponized to mods that are essentially items of fashion like green skin or small horns. These sorts of cosmetic mods are very popular among high society in the Chaebol, and are regarded as strange and exotic everywhere else.
Some go so far with their augments that they’re barely recognizable as human anymore, resembling some kind of alien. Step into the wrong bar in Seoul, and it can be as if you stepped into some strange cantina on another planet.
The Chaebol is the only part of the world where Uplifts are legal, but it’s certainly not the only place where they are made. Uplifts are animals who have been genetically modified to be given sapience, equivalent to human level intellect. Usually the animals chosen are those with notably high intelligence in the first place, such as apes, crows, and dolphins, but conceivably with modern science nearly any animal could be uplifted.
Uplifts face even greater discrimination that AI. While AI make people uneasy, at the very least they are legally acknowledged as people everywhere in the world. Only the Chaebol acknowledges them as people and allows for their creation under very strict circumstances. Everywhere else treats them as unfortunate byproducts of science gone mad, to be pitied but otherwise disregarded.
No special effort is given to persecute Uplifts, but nothing is done to treat them like people either. They simply exist as unacknowledged entities, and as a result rarely do they leave the Chaebol, and those born outside Indochina usually try to make their way there.
If Uplifts have it hard, Chimeras have it even worse. A Chimera is a new species created out of the genome of two or more species. They are sometimes sapient, sometimes not, but the ones who are face all the same persecutions that Uplifts face and then some.
The ones that are not sapient are not actually illegal to create in much of the world, however. They’re just animals, after all. Genetically modified animals, but animals all the same. They’re kept as exotic pets or specialty guard animals, and other expensive curiosities for rich syndicrats willing to play God.
Cloning human beings is extremely illegal everywhere. It is something every syndicracy seems to be able to agree on, a line that none seem to be willing to cross. As a corollary to the ban on cloning, attempts to upload one’s mind or otherwise duplicate, save, or preserve one’s consciousness to another source is also illegal.
Scientists sometimes protest these kinds of laws, saying it holds back research and that they are selfish and irresponsible. But they stand, and are rarely broken. The punishments for breaking them are extremely severe.