Korea’s oldest shipyard rebrands

Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction has rebranded as is now known as HJ Shipbuilding & Construction (HJSC).

The company is the oldest shipyard business in South Korea, founded in Busan in 1937. After many years in debt workout, a local consortium led by Dongbu Corporation bought the company in September this year and the yard has celebrated its first orders for a long time in a recent months.

Other Korean yards have rebranded this year including STX, which is now known as K Shipbuilding. 

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. If I have my history correct Choseon Heavy Industries Inc. (CHI) was established in 1937 on Yeong-do Island, Busan, to build and repair ships. After WWII C.H.I. became a majority state owned enterprise and renamed the Korea Shipbuilding and Engineering Corporation (KSEC) in 1950. It was later privatised in 1968. The shipyard undertook some challenging work, and despite the lack of the latest equipment (for the time) their workforce produced excellent ships. In 1983 KSEC entered into a contract with Klaveness and Havtor of Norway’s Bulkhandling Pool, and their associates, to build a series of six 37,000-dwt products/ore/ bulk/oil carriers (PROBOS) having 7 holds and pontoon hatchcovers strengthened to be able to carry two tiers of containers. Japanese yards had previously declined to tender. A wise decision as it turned out. When the scheduled delivery dates came around in 1986, the buyers rejected each ship for technical reasons, involving the hatchcovers and the ship’s manoeuvring characteristics. The ensuing dispute went to arbitration and was eventually settled. KSEC agreed to reduce the price of each vessel by US$ 6 million and carry out additional work to correct the issues with the hatchcovers and the manoeuvring. This outcome bankrupted the yard, which was sold by the liquidators to Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction in May 1989. The Probo project occurred during the Chun Doo-hwan Presidency. A time when the normal working day for a Korean shipyard worker was 10 hours and they got one day off per month (no week-ends). A more hardworking and dedicated bunch would be difficult to find. I had better finish here.

  2. Perhaps I should not have stopped where I did. My reference to the long working hours of the shipyard workers in 1986 was in the context of building ships for owners from a country where the normal working day was eight hours, five days a week at that time. In the end, the shipping companies involved got a very good deal for their shareholders, and those shipyard workers delivered six well built ships and were rewarded with job losses, although the Hanjin buy out did keep some of them in work. I spent three years in the yard from 1986 to 1989 which was a time a great change, not least the change to a democratic form of government in 1988. Since then the quality of life for most Koreans has advanced at an incredible pace putting them ahead of the US and up with such countries as Canada, UK and not very far behind the Netherlands depending on the “Quality of Life” surveys used. Their hard work has provided rewards for the generations that followed. Similar perhaps to the Netherlands, which was a major shipbuilding nation in the 1950’s, with not a hard hat to be seen, and possibly some long hours of work ? The progress made by the Dutch since WWII (not forgetting the harm done during Hongerwinter ) is tremendous, and the priority the Dutch have always given to the family life, work balance is a fine example to all. Well done.

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