On December 22, Korean Register (KR) selected Lee Jeong-Kie as the firm's twenty-third chairman and CEO. Lee has been with KR for 29 years, and was promoted from his position as executive vice president of the class society's survey division.
Lee is a naval architect by training, and he worked for Korea Shipbuilding and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering before joining KR. In the past he has served as KR's country manager for Singapore and as executive vice president for the society's technical and statutory divisions.
Services related to newbuildings are under pressure from the recent decline in ordering activity, but under Lee’s leadership, KR’s survey division has improved its competitiveness for work on existing tonnage. The society says that it has recently gained authorization to provide statutory services on behalf of maritime organizations in both Germany and Canada.
“KR is facing many challenges following the prolonged downturn of the shipping and shipbuilding industries, and as a result of the liberalization of classification services in Korea. I am keen to support and enhance our services under these conditions," Lee said. “Moving forward, KR will look to provide bespoke services to meet clients' specific requirements and will explore the expansion of business services through diversification.”
Lee's predecessor Dr. B.S. Park passed away in October, leaving a leadership gap at a time of change for KR. In addition to the structural shifts in the global shipping and shipbuilding markets, the South Korean government is finalizing changes that will end the society’s monopoly on the inspection of Korean-flagged vessels. Following the completion of an agreement between French and Korean authorities, Bureau Veritas (BV) will also be authorized to conduct inspections of Korean ships – the first time that a foreign class society will compete in this market since 1975.
“The liberalisation of classification services to grant access to foreign classification societies would resolve the side-effects arising from the monopolisation of ship inspection services," said the Ministry of Fisheries' senior director of maritime industry and technology, Kim Chang-kyun, in a statement last year.