South Korea's Duwon Shipping, which transports general cargoes between South Korea and Russia’s Far East on its ro-ro vessels, is adding a passenger and container service to the route, joining a growing number of carriers offering Russian connections.
The company has opened a second service, calling at South Korea’s Pohang port, Vladivostok, and Maizuru Port in Japan’s Kyoto prefecture. The service began on 7 Septembe, with an 11,500gt ro-ro passenger ferry, Eastern Dream, departing Youngilman, a sub-port of Pohang.
Duwon is taking over the service from a compatriot ferry operator, DBS Cruise Ferry, which discontinued its ferry operator’s licence in April 2020, but had ceased the service in December 2019. The Eastern Dream was also acquired from DBS.
Eastern Dream can carry 480 passengers, 130TEU, 250 cars, and heavy equipment. The vessel also features a restaurant, sauna and duty-free shop.
However, with countries having shut their borders to tourists due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Eastern Dream will not carry passengers for now.
An official of Duwon told Container News, “Due to Covid-19, passenger transportation is completely suspended, and we plan to revitalise the route with cargo sales, focusing on live seafood and agricultural products, heavy equipment, and used cars.”
Duwon also operates two 9,700dwt vessels, comprising one car carrier, Ocean Pride 1 and one ro-ro cargo ship, Ocean Leader.
In recent weeks, carriers such as Ocean Network Express, Mediterranean Shipping Company, and Emirates Shipping Line, have launched services between South Korea and the Russian Far East, in response to growing demand.
South Korea’s current government, led by President Moon Jae-in, has a "New Northern Policy," which seeks joint infrastructure projects with Russia and North Korea. This has resulted in greater cargo flows between South Korea and the Russian Far East.