Day 1 Reflections

Posted by sammi lim at 8:21 pm

After our touchdown at Busan airport, we made our way to the very first item on our itinerary list - Visit to POSCO.

Along the way I picked up certain interesting facts from our tour guide, Mr Bryan. Busan is the second largest city in Korea, with Seoul being the first. There will be a very breathtaking scenery at night at the Gwangandaegyo or Diamond Bridge. South Korea has a population of 50 million, while that of North Korea is 20 million. Korea's goods are usually cheaper compared to other countries because it is the site of production of many goods like rice etc. However, like some other countries, Korea faces a population problem which results from the teachings of Confucianism. People would abort the baby if it's female while they are doing the gender test during one's pregnancy. Hence there are 10% less females than males here. Korea's economy has also been deteriorating, hence they try to use science and technology as much as possible (to innovate, create, or improve existing products etc.). Hence, Korea puts great focus on science in education systems so as to produce scientists or any science-related occupations.

At about 1pm, we reached the POSCO museum and factory which is one of the world's leading steel manufacturing companies. 

When I passed by POSCO's main gate, I could infer that the resources (raw materials) that they had were very limited, and they had to use various interesting ways to ensure that their production of steel is not compromised by the limited resources. 
At the museum, we were greeted by a very warm and welcoming guide who introduced and explained to us the history of POSCO. POSCO was founded in 1968. We watched videos to better aid in our understanding and learning. Old relics were displayed which were made of steel. One example would be the gigantic cooking pot in the Joseon Dynasty which helped to cook rice. In the early stages of the tour, we learnt that the site for steel production needed wide area and good harbour conditions, electricity, water and good transportation services. Hence they invested in Pohang as it was the most advantageous in terms of assistance facilities and investments. POSCO had strategic planning and goals. They wanted to produce steel at very low costs for domestic uses. However, they needed to heavily rely on government financial aid in the early developments and also secure advanced technology by negotiating with japan to provide the much needed technology. We also could see the ACTUAL Rommel House which had been moved to the museum. It gave us a glimpse of their working area back in the old days. We also learnt that a second phase was launched to cope with increasing demands after the first was built. Subsequently, higher increase in domestic demands resulted in the third construction. Unfortunately, there was a defect (10cm crack) in one of the architectural buildings when 80% of it was completed and they were instructed to destroy the entire building completely. This is to ensure that the problem would not snowball even further and cause greater damage. 

At the industrial area (of about 9.5 million square metres), we learnt about the process of making raw iron: putting raw iron into furnaces which will be purified and then converted into intermediate materials before a final product is obtained. The site of the production of the final product is nearest to the sea port so as to facilitate efficient transportation services for packaging to export to 62 other countries (Europe, China, South-East Asia,etc.) or for domestic uses. 48% of the iron will be transported for domestic uses while the remaining 52% will be exported to the other countries. They patented their own technology called FINEX which is said to be energy-efficient as it converts raw materials directly into molten iron ore. Fun fact: They created their first batch of molten iron in 1973. The furnace operates around the year, 24 hours a day consecutively for 20 years. The fire will not be put out at all until the last year (20th year of production). The iron can be heated for up to 1200 degrees Celsius. POSCO also built a seawall. Then they drilled in sand to fill the sea wall to transfer the site into dry land. To accelerate water drainage, sand drains was used. Piled layers of heavy sand accelerates soil drying. They had hence reclaimed the land. 
To increase efficiency and productivity, the Hwang yang furnaces were arranged in a straight line.  So that products can be transported faster to various stages of production. 
These are the few things which amazes me. The roads in the industrial area are always washed with water because dust will be accumulated on the roads. Pipes with small openings can be seem along the roads and I feel that it is strategically placed such that the direction of the water flow would be able to carry the water as well as the dust away into the drain. Pipes connecting the entire production site is also 320km long! The distance from Busan to Seoul is 400km (For comparison purposes). Also, I have realised that there is very smooth traffic even when there are NO traffic lights. This was probably also planned by the architectural designers of this production site to facilitate smooth traffic flow. 

Overall, this was a wonderful learning journey to POSCO and I look forward to learning more the following day.

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