Since the end of March, Seongbok (Marine) Park has been managing the South Korean subsidiary of a. hartrodt in Seoul. Korea's internationally intertwined economy has been severely affected by the corona crisis, industrial production and exports have decreased. Park expects a market shakeout in the freight forwarding sector and predicts that "almost 30 percent of the approximately 5,000 providers in Korea" will not survive the crisis. He himself is a fighter with experience in the Korea Marine Corps, security services and with martial arts such as judo, taekwondo and hapkido: "We concentrate on finding good customers who have terminated their annual contracts with Korean freight forwarders," he explains his strategy.
Corona forces focus on Korea and China
In Korea, a. hartrodt has been on the market for 30 years. 32 people work in two offices in the capital Seoul and the port city of Pusan, where Park had previously been branch manager since June 2007. The services mainly include sea and air freight, but also project logistics. According to Park, like most freight forwarders in the country, a. hartrodt is currently forced to "concentrate on the Korean-Chinese logistics market which is almost no longer under the influence of Covid-19".
Only air freight affected
South Korea is considered a model of how to keep the Covid-19 pandemic under control. The number of infected persons has been limited, and the daily number of new infections has now reached a maximum of a double-digit growth. "In almost all logistics functions – for example in the ports, by rail, truck or in warehouses – there was no shutdown," reports Park. He also emphasizes the excellent internet access in Korea: "This allows us to work faster than other countries".
However, as everywhere else in the world, flight schedules were cut back, Korean Air temporarily grounded two-thirds of its passenger aircraft in March. "As a result, aircraft hold became short and air freight rates rose," Park says. But despite greatly reduced capacities, a. hartrodt Korea handled more than 500 tons of air freight in March, mainly from the capital's Incheon Airport to Hong Kong (China). Park wants to further expand the air freight business, "especially from Incheon to Shanghai (China) and Nagoya (Japan)".