5/13/19- Shipping Out to Ulsan

Today was a nice introduction to Korea as an industrial powerhouse: a theme which we will be exploring in-depth throughout the rest of our time here. The day began with a crack-of-dawn (7:30) check-out time from our Gyeongju hotel. After getting ourselves and our belongings on the bus, we took the just over hour-long journey to the port city of Ulsan. Because we were scheduled for early visits, we jumped right into the action without stopping to get settled in first. Our first visit of the day was to a relatively small subsidiary of HHI Group (the conglomerate that also owns Hyundai) called Jinsan Marine Management. We were immediately greeted by the firm’s president and led into a board room where we were given a presentation on the background of the company. We were also provided with light refreshments and a “goody bag” of sorts that contained a pen, a CD with information about the company, and more. The meeting was interesting, but I feel like I missed out on a lot of interesting information because the presenter had an extremely strong accent that was hard to understand at times. Basically, what I could understand is that to put things as simply as possible, Jinsan is a combination of a Costco and a Lowes for ships with an added service department. They provide crew goods and spare parts as well as harbor services to vessels across the nation. After this meeting wrapped up, we were given a brief tour of the facilities, which mostly consisted of a few huge warehouses filled with parts and supplies. After a group picture, we boarded the bus and headed to lunch. Today’s meal was pretty tasty and consisted of vegetable fried rice with a fried egg on top. Simple, but effective. Next, we took off for our second and final visit of the day: Hyundai Heavy Industries. This firm is the largest shipbuilder in the world, and its facilities stretch for miles in each direction, seeming to take up half of the city. On arrival, we were first shown the company museum, which included a section dedicated to the life of company founder Asan Ju-yung, who grew from a North Korean farm boy to one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, alongside a section detailing the company’s structure and numerous noteworthy achievements. Our tour guide then boarded the bus with us for a tour of the shipyard. The tour was extremely brief (basically we just drove around at normal speed as the guide spoke for about 15 minutes), but the sites still managed to leave quite the impression on me. The sheer scope of the operations, as well as the size of the ships they were producing simply blew me away. In addition, I found it very interesting to see the vast number of employees at the plant driving from place to place on nearly identical, what I can only assume to be company-issued, mopeds. After this, we drove about 30 minutes to our third hotel of the trip. After getting checked in to our 18th floor room with quite a view of the downtown area, I took a nap for a few hours (I seemingly can never get enough sleep on this trip). After waking up, I walked a few blocks to a nearby Auntie Anne’s for a light dinner of pretzel sticks and lemonade. That concluded my day in the beautiful port city of Ulsan!

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