By Xu Aiying and Yoon Sojung
President Moon Jae-in on April 23 pledged to rebuild Korea's shipping industry to raise its ranking to the world's top five.
At the naming ceremony of the world's largest container ship, the HMM (Hyundai Merchant Marine) Algeciras, he said he will push ahead with a five-year plan to achieve this goal.
Four times bigger than a soccer field and able to hold 23,964 containers, the vessel is named after the southern Spanish port city of Algeciras on the Strait of Gibraltar and symbolizes the effort to regain Korea’s competitiveness in the shipping industry.
President Moon highlighted the significance of the ceremony, saying, "With this naming ceremony for the HMM Algeciras today, we herald to the world the rebuilding of the Republic of Korea's shipping industry." He also mentioned the inner strength of the sector in overcoming crises such as the 2017 bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping.
"Within this year, the world's 12 largest container ships, all Korea-made and of the same class as the HMM Algeciras, will start to crisscross the globe," he said. "Just as Admiral Yi Sun-sin helped surmount a national crisis with only 12 vessels some 400 years ago, these 12 super-sized container ships will help revive the stature of our shipping industry."
"Korea's future as a maritime powerhouse can never be relinquished," the president said, adding that he will faithfully implement the five-year plan to rebuild the industry. He also announced large-scale financial support to the sector, including KRW 380 billion in financial assistance to those hit hardest by the pandemic, and plans to develop new businesses within shipping through information and communications technologies.
"Now we have to overcome yet another crisis. We must ride out the waves of the COVID-19-induced economic recession. We will work together with the international community to prevent the collapse of the global supply chain under any circumstances," he added.
President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook on April 23 pose for a group photo at the naming ceremony of the HMM Algeciras at the Okpo shipyard of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering on Geojedo Island, Gyeongsangnam-do Province.