Once the world's seventh largest container operator, Hanjin Shipping is in the midst of collapse. Just this week, it reported a Q3 operating loss of more than 260 million dollars while working to shut its European operations and let go of hundreds of crew members. U-Jean Jung takes a look at one company's downfall and its impact on an entire country's shipping industry.
Container trucks parked at Busan's New Port. The port is home to South Korea's troubled Hanjin Shipping. As the once dominant container shipper looks increasingly likely to face liquidation, the stacks of empty containers here keep growing. SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS REPORTER, U-JEAN JUNG , SAYING: "This terminal's main client is Hanjin Shipping and they've seen a 60% dip in cargo volume since Hanjin filed for bankruptcy protection back in August." Last week, Hanjin issued a 30-day layoff notice to 560 of its South Korean shipping crew members. Analysts say it could be just the beginning for South Korea's shipping industry. Hanjin is saddled with more than 5 billion dollars' worth of debt, and it's been forced to sell major assets to pay it off. The Korean Maritime Institute estimates as many as 11-thousand workers serving the country's shipping industry could lose their jobs. (SOUNDBITE) CHAIRMAN, BUSAN PORT DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION, SAYING: "The global network that Hanjin Shipping has, especially the Asia-US route, will all disappear. So, we're facing a risk of losing South Korea's marine network. It's a huge crisis for a country that wants to become a maritime power." Seoul's Central District Court on Monday picked South Korea's Korea Line as the preferred bidder to acquire Hanjin's Asia-US operations, and a stake in the Long Beach Terminal in California-- beating out Hyundai Merchant Marine. The judge said Korea Line proposed better terms - including an offer to take on more Hanjin employees, though the total number remains unclear.