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Hyundai, Samsung production facilities resume after quake

A number of South Korean businesses were forced to halt their production and assembly lines for safety inspections Tuesday, one day after a powerful quake rocked the country.

Nearly a dozen major industrial facilities, including a power plant, had their operations halted after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake jolted the nation, according to the commerce ministry.

The quake was the strongest ever to be recorded on the Korean Peninsula, the Korea Meteorological Administration has said.

The nation’s largest automaker Hyundai Motor was one of those forced to sustain losses due to the suspension of operations.

Shortly after the quake, the automaker was forced to halt its production facility in Ulsan, located some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul and near the epicenter of the quake in Gyeongju.

The automaker again suspended the Ulsan plant for over two hours early Tuesday for safety inspections. The temporary shutdown followed a series of halted operations at the Ulsan facility due to labor strikes that, according to the company, have so far caused a drop of more than 65,000 cars in output.

“This was the first time the company had to suspend its production line due to an earthquake. No serious damage to the plant had been reported, but the company decided to halt its production just to make sure that all its facilities and equipment, including the production line, remain safe,” a company official said.

The nation’s largest smartphone-maker Samsung Electronics also temporally halted its chip and smartphone plants, although they soon resumed operations without incurring major losses.

Samsung said it halted the production line for precision mold -- which churns out molds of small plastic cases for smartphones -- in the plant located in Gumi as a precautionary measure. The main assembly line for smartphone production, however, continued to operate without interruption. Its chip plants in Giheung and Hwasung were also affected. Three photo facilities -- with equipment to print chip circuits using lights on wafers -- were stopped for a while.

“There was no production shortfall because we temporarily halted the equipment sensitive to vibration and the assembly resumed the operation after the inspection,” a Samsung official said.

Some textile plants near the center of the quake have also reported temporary suspensions of production due to the quake, causing some 40 million won ($36,000) in losses, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Many chemical plants in Ulsan had also been forced to temporarily shut down their operations for safety inspections, but most have restarted, as their facilities are designed to withstand a quake of up to 7 magnitude, the ministry said.


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