SEJONG, May 29 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea has designated Ulsan, Geoje, Mokpo and several other regions, home to the country’s shipbuilders and related industries, as an emergency response zone to provide job support and tax incentives as these areas are reeling from high unemployment, the commerce ministry said Tuesday.
The designation came as local shipbuilders have suffered a drawn-out slump, which forced them to implement massive restructuring efforts, including extensive job cuts.
It is the second time that the government has designated the regions as a “special industrial crisis response zone” since it provided a legal framework in June last year.
Thousands of workers in the country’s shipbuilding and automaking sectors have lost their jobs or may be fired as the industries are struggling with a protracted slump.
“The government will also help such regions expand their tourism and leisure infrastructure,” Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said in an economy-related ministers meeting. “Going forward, the government will continue to provide support to other restructuring-hit cities.”
Gunsan, the home to General Motors’ money-losing assembly line, was also designated as an emergency response zone in April this year after the American automaker in February announced a plan to shut down its underutilized plant in the city, 274 kilometers south of Seoul, by the end of this month.
Under the measure, those who lost their jobs will be eligible for government subsidies and job training, and companies that newly start businesses in the city can get tax exemptions for up to five years and other incentives.