Brooklyn Journal of International Law


Michelle S. Lee

First Page



Hanjin Shipping Company declared bankruptcy in September 2016. The South Korean shipping giant, owner of dozens of massive shipping vessels, was suddenly engulfed in multiple bankruptcy proceedings all over the world. When a major company such as Hanjin falls, the attention is focused mainly on the money, statistics, and the corporate heads. There is rarely a spotlight on how such a collapse affects the workers. With Hanjin at the forefront of the new wave of shipping bankruptcies, it will be increasingly important to understand the realities of the financial disasters on the lives of the company’s employees. This Note will discuss the implications of leaving human beings out at sea for uncertain lengths of time. There are psychological and sociological effects inherent during an extended voyage at sea. To remedy these negative effects, customary international law established the right of seafarers to shore leave. Shore leave grants seafarers temporary access to land, allowing them to eat, rest, and set their feet on solid ground. Presently, the United States is the only nation that imposes a visa requirement for seafarers seeking temporary shore leave through one of its ports. This Note will argue that the United States’ visa requirement conflicts with the right to shore leave by examining the International Labour Organizations’ Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention. This Note will then offer solutions that the United States should implement, including getting rid of its visa requirement, adopting ILO 185, and implementing the seafarer identity documents that ILO 185 has established.