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Asia Minute: Korean Shipping Giant in Dangerous Financial Waters

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

It’s been a week since South Korea’s biggest shipping company filed for bankruptcy. The shipper’s parent company is investing more money, but the future remains uncertain. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

There’s no doubt Hanjin Shipping remains in dangerous waters.  When the company suddenly filed for bankruptcy last week, the action shook ports around the world.  The company’s assets were frozen—stranding ships—many of which have been unable to unload or take on cargo.

The business realities are complicated: Hanjin Shipping has filed for protection from creditors in dozens of countries.  Tuesday, the shipper’s parent company said it will pour $90 million into efforts to resolve the disruption.  That includes $36 million from the personal fortune of the company’s chairman.  The family-dominated parent company includes a number of other ventures—including Korean Air.

According to court papers, Hanjin operates about 60 shipping lines around the world—with 140 container ships moving more than 100 million tons of cargo each year.  If the company is not able to emerge from bankruptcy it would be the largest commercial failure in the history of the shipping business.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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