Captains do not have working hours. They work around the clock. They spend occasional free time doing what they enjoy. Some read a monthly magazine over and over until they could cite it over dinner while others collect certain objects obsessively.
Some captains intimidate fellow captains with their unparalleled intelligence and ability. A good example would be a captain who studied the Korean baseball tram Lotte Giants for years when professional baseball became hugely popular. He wrote a draft on a ship and published a book entitled “Strategies for Lotte Giants” in 1990. Impressed by his work, the baseball team hired him as the team’s senior leader. Working as an owner for two years, he led the team which was at the bottom of the league to victory. He is now back on the ship as a pilot.
In the 1960s, the Korea Maritime and Ocean University produced 100 graduates who studied with a national scholarship to become ship officers. Unfortunately, there was no ship they could board after graduation. Feeling sorry for the students left without jobs, a professor of the university, a former captain, decided to quit his job, moved to Japan and became a captain in Japan. He then hired Korean sailors and sent them abroad. Approximately 50,000 Korean sailors were sent abroad in the 1980s, creating an annual revenue of 500 billion won. The current success of the Korean shipping industry is owed to this visionary who made the bold decision to leave his job.
The escalating tensions in the Middle East remind me of a story. Everyday, a large oil tank arrives in Korea, and most of them come from the Middle East. When a war broke out in the Persian Gulf, sailors of the ship chartered by a Korean oil refiner refused to enter the Persian Gulf. This was an emergency for the company. Desperate, the refiner reached out to the charter ship and asked it in earnest to transport oil for it. Against this backdrop, the captain gathered his sailors and told them, “If we choose not go to the Persian Gulf, Korea’s shipping industry will come to a halt. Let us go together. You may leave the ship if you disagree.” Nobody disagreed with the captain, and they arrived sound and safe in Korea, carrying the oil.
There is also a captain of a fishing boat who, due to lack of experience, crashed a boat full of fish into breakwater, which led to the sinking of the boat. This left the owner of the boat no choice but to shut down his business. A few years later, the captain paid several visits a year to the boat owner even after he became a captain of a different shipping company. It was his way of apologizing. The more experience he had in the sea, the more he came back with a boat full of fish. He was recognized by his virtue and made his name as the best captain in the East Sea.
This list of legendary captains goes on. Even at this very moment, numerous captains are doing their best in the sea. Without their devotion, there would be no trade and no electricity let alone seafood on our table.