Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg
Park Jin-ok was one of the first to take voluntary retirement at Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. after working as a welder for the world’s largest shipbuilder for 15 years. Since he left in 2016, he has been joined by some 35,000 workers who quit or lost their jobs at the shipyard in South Korea’s port of Ulsan, in a downturn as dramatic as it was sudden.
Before then, Ulsan was the richest city in the country for nine straight years by income per capita. The decline that followed tells the story not only of the seismic forces shaking the global shipbuilding industry, but also a schism that’s dividing South Korea over its vast, family-run conglomerates — the chaebol — which lifted South Korea into the pantheon of leading industrial nations.
Ulsan is known as Hyundai Town, an industrial powerhouse with the world’s largest car-assembly plant, its third-biggest oil refinery and the giant shipyards. The 4 kilometers of docks were begun by Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung in the 1970s, sounding the death knell for rival yards across Europe and the U.S.
Read the entire article at ‘Korea’s Hyundai Heavy workers worry change will benefit billionaire founder’s family more‘