Massive Steel Cities: Pohang, South Korea

The city of Pohang in South Korea is associated with steel for one main reason, it’s home to one of the biggest steel producers in the world. Our profile on the steel city of Pohang is number two in our four-part series profiling cities around the world that have played key roles in the global steel industry.

Steel marks the start of Korea’s self-sufficient industrial status

Located on the east coast of Korea, the fishing village of Pohang played an important strategic role in the Korean War with the UN forces landing at Pohang in 1950 representing the largest amphibious operation since World War II but it wasn’t until the establishment of the first steel production plant in 1972 that saw Pohang move from regional coastal town to global steel industry powerhouse.

The first steel product off the production line was steel plate, followed by hot rolled products that were quickly absorbed by the domestic market, which by the 1980s was demanding steel for the manufacture of cars and home appliances as well as Korea’s growing shipbuilding industry.

By 1980, the Pohang mill was producing 6.2 million tonnes of raw steel. As the decade continued, Korea’s steel production began outstripping the USA and Japan and Pohang found itself transformed from a fishing port to an industrial powerhouse that even had its own professional football team, the Pohang Steelers.

The 1980s also saw Pohang become home to Korea’s first science and technology research-oriented university, which has become one of the most successful universities in the country.

A future beyond steel production

As the 21st century dawned and with it, increasing competition for steel producers, Pohang’s home-grown steel company, POSCO, began looking outside Korea for growth opportunities and in 2006 had 26 subsidiaries. POSCO also became the first foreign company to operate an integrated stainless steel mill on mainland China.

Back home, the city of Pohang also started to think beyond the borders of its world renowned steel mill. The city’s coastal location naturally lends itself to tourism and its fishing industry never left, with the Jukdo Market one of the most well-known seafood markets in the country.

Each summer visitors flock from all over the country to see the Pohang International Fire & Light Festival, while the New Year sees thousands of people greet the first sunrise of the year at Homigot, the most eastern point of Korea and home to the famous Hands of Harmony sculpture.

The next steel city we’re going to look at in our four-part series is Birmingham in the USA. If you missed the first post in the series about the Taiwanese port city of Kaohsiung, you can read it here.

At ShapeCUT, we’re fascinated by the history of steel and the steel industry around the world. We’re very proud to have been associated with the Australian steel industry for over 20 years as a leading provider of steel profile cutting services as well as bevelling, drilling, bending, rolling and machining.

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