South Korea

Updated 5 Sep 2019

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There have since been some notable casualties: STX has been obliged to offload its foreign operations, Hanjin has virtually collapsed and is on life support and Daewoo has this year been acquired by Hyundai with the blessing of the South Korean government and banking sector. In propping up ailing builders, South Korea has once again been accused of unfair competition and is the subject of action by Japan and the EU at the WTO.

The travails of STX, Hanjin and now Daewoo mean that South Korea’s big five builders have been effectively reduced to just two: Samsung and Hyundai, which has always operated its subsidiaries Samho and Mipo as separate entities from the main Hyundai Heavy.

As well as the major players, South Korea also has a contingent of smaller yards which have also experienced mixed fortunes. SPP became a casualty in 2017 and others that have delivered vessels over the past five years no longer have any ships on their orderbooks.

Things have looked quite black for South Korean builders since 2016 although a number of wins for LNG carriers, large container ships and tankers have occurred recently. Arguably the most innovative ships being built currently are the tankers for AET and Teekay at Samsung, which will feature a system whereby VOCs from the cargo are recovered and used as fuel. The Teekay ships also feature a hybrid propulsion system incorporating battery technology.

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