On my way up to the hillside of the South Korean capital, the contrast between the old and the new city is significantly seen through the window of my cab. It is evening here, which means it's breakfast time in Norway. On the top of the hill, the car makes a right-turn and I have arrived Yongsan-gu in Seoul.
At the Grand Hyatt Hotel I meet Olav Sollie, a former NTNU Marine Technology student and now the CEO of the ship-owner, Norwegian Car Carriers AS (NOCC).
“90 per cent of the world's transport is carried by ships," Sollie says. "The Norwegian shipping industry plays an important role in the global shipping industry with more than 2,000 active oceangoing ships at any one time,”
At the moment, Norwegian ship-owners control a fleet of nine big vessels for the transportation of cars and other rolling cargo. The fleet is employed under time charter contracts with major car carrier operators, which again enter into shipping contracts with car manufacturers or car traders.
"The Norwegian Car Carriers is an example of how the Norwegian shipping industry is acting at a global scale," Sollie says.
Based on almost 50 years of continuous presence in the car carrier market, NOCC has built its business based on long-term relationships with car carrier operators.
"The aim is to balance the commitment to the customers with the need for ship-owners to time vessel acquisitions or new building with market cycles," he says.
The vessels are typically employed under time charter contracts with durations between six months and up to seven years. NOCC has several different clients operating in Asia.
"In Asia we have some of our most important business partners; car manufacturers that rent our ships, shipyards and equipment providers who build ships for us and trading houses that help us with the financial part," he says.
Recently, the company has entered into contracts with Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries in South Korea for the construction of two flexible 6500-car capacities Pure Car Truck Carriers with options for further two vessels.
"We are in South Korea to order two carriers. Here we also have customers who rent several ships of NOCC on long-term contracts, used to transport vehicles across the globe. The Pure Car Truck Carriers are scheduled for delivery in the 4th quarter of 2016 and the 1st quarter of 2017."
"Knowing the culture over here is crucial. Business in Asia is based a lot on building a long-term relationship," he adds.