Hyundai Heavy Industries decided to stop operations of its Gunsan Shipyard starting from the latter half of this year, due to lack of workload. Although the shipbuilder disclosed its intention to resume the operation of the shipyard if the economy recovers, the regional communities are criticizing the decision, claiming that Hyundai's latest decision is no more than a step to close the shipyard permanently.
In their populist move, Korea's leading presidential candidates are rushing to Gunsan to appease the voters, insisting that the company sustain the operation of the Gunsan shipyard.
The shipyard that Hyundai Heavy Industries built in 2010 by investing 1.46 trillion won has assembled as many as 13 ultra-large ships per year, accounting for 9 percent of North Jeolla Province's exports and 24 percent of the Gunsan economy.
Despite being in a desperate need to accelerate its business restructuring pace to survive in an unprecedented slump of the shipbuilding market, Hyundai Heavy is now in a dilemma due to strong opposition from major presidential candidates.
The Gunsan shipyard is a dock dedicated mainly to the construction of very large crude carriers. Without acquiring consent from shipowners, it is not possible for the company to assign some of the workload from its shipyard in Ulsan to Gunsan.