King of Steel Passes Away
Former Prime Minister Park Tae-joon, founder of POSCO, dies of complications from lung disease on Dec. 13
The godfather of steel in Korea, honorary chairman and founder of POSCO Park Tae-joon, left no house and not a single share of POSCO in his name when he died and left a will that said Make POSCO to be the top steel maker in the world. Park Tae-joon, also a former prime minister died of lung disease on Dec.13 at a hospital in Seoul. He was 84 years old. Park was one of the key leaders in Korea's industrialization drive to rise from the ashes of the 1950-1953 Korean War like a Phoenix and the successful drive made Korea one of the world's top industrial powers today with its annual exports among the 10 largest in the world.
According to POSCO and the Shinchon Severance Hospital in Seoul, Park was treated last month after experiencing difficulty in breathing and was recuperating after an operation. The Seoul-based hospital said that surgery was performed due to minor problems arising from an operation to remove a tumor from his lungs in the United States 10 years ago.
However, Park was hospitalized last week after his lung condition grew worse again. He is survived by his widow, a son and four daughters. It is heartbreaking that such a great leader who greatly contributed to Korea's industrialization, President Lee Myung-bak said in a statement.
The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) also offered its condolences on Park's death, saying The trailblazer of the Korean steel industry has passed away.The steel industry has played a key role in Korea's trade volume reaching $1 trillion and we cannot over-praise his achievements.
The native of South Gyeongsang Province established Pohang Iron and Steel, a precursor to POSCO, with 34 employees in April 1968 after a four-year spell at Korea Tungsten, later renamed TaeguTec.
In the first 10 years of his management, the Pohang-based steelmaker evolved into a competitive steel maker that produced 5.5 million tons of steel annually, and before stepping down in October 1992 Park led POSCO to become the third-largest steel maker in the world. Currently, POSCO has an annual production capability of 37 million tons of steel.
Park is often called the godfather of the Korean steel industry and a great innovator.
He also has a storied career in politics. Park, seen as an icon for the country's economic growth drives and industrialization, entered the political arena by winning a parliamentary seat in 1981. Since then, he served as a four-term lawmaker.
He also headed the ruling Democratic Justice Party in 1988 and became a member of the Supreme Council for the Democratic Liberal Party in 1990, both of which were predecessors to the current Grand National Party. He led the now-defunct United Liberal Democrats in 1997 and helped late President Kim Dae-jung win the presidential election the same year. In 2000, Park served as prime minister.
In honor of his accomplishments, POSCO founded the TJ Park Foundation in 2005 and it has annually awarded TJ Park prizes in the categories of science, education and community development, and philanthropy.
Park established Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in 1986.
President Lee Myung-bak on Dec.14 paid respect to the late founder and honorary chairman of South Korea's top steelmaker POSCO, saying the deceased did great things for the country. Park Tae-joon died Dec.13 of lung disease at age 84. "He did great jobs for the country," Lee told Park's wife and other bereaved family members during a visit to a Seoul hospital where Park's body has been kept until his funeral service, according to senior presidential press secretary Choe Guem-nak. "Many people will remember him." Park was regarded as the godfather of the country's steel industry since he spearheaded a project to build Pohang Iron & Steel Co., POSCO's predecessor, in the southeastern port city of Pohang.
Despite industry skepticism, under founder Park's leadership, POSCO began production in 1972 just four years after the company's inauguration in April 1968. POSCO grew rapidly, becoming the world's third-largest steelmaker in terms of crude steel output. nw
Mourners pay last respects to the late founder and honorary chairman of POSCO Park Tae-joon at Shinchon Severance Hospital in Seoul where he died on Dec. 13 at the age of 84. Hundreds of mourners included President Lee Myung-bak and foreign dignitaries. Photo on courtesy of POSCO