Thai Workers to Help Clear South Korean Shipyard Backlog

Two hands shaking, one with the Thai flag on it and the other with the South Korean flag
Updated Published

An agreement between South Korea and Thailand has partially addressed South Korea's significant challenges, including a hefty order book, complex production timelines, and challenging local workforce demographics. Under this arrangement, 3,000 Thai welders and mechanical technicians will be dispatched to the five largest shipyards in South Korea.

Over the past few years, South Korea has been modifying its visa system to attract workers from across Southeast Asia and even from Nepal, aiming to support the country's extensive array of new shipbuilding contracts.

After a decade of reduced shipbuilding activity following the global financial crisis, South Korea has faced a shortage of domestic workers. This shortage has complicated efforts for the nation's leading shipyards to maintain their demanding delivery schedules, with orders now extending into the late 2020s for large, high-specification ships.

A report from Danish Ship Finance noted that yard utilization in South Korea was at 53% in 2022, rose to 78% in 2023, and is anticipated to reach 107% this year.