Park Tae-joon, founder and former chairman of Korean steel giant POSCO, died Tuesday afternoon after a surgery to treat a type of lung disease, according to Seoul’s Severance Hospital. He was 84.
Park had been hospitalized since last month after experiencing flu-like symptoms and breathing difficulty. Park has been treated at the hospital’s intensive care unit since his surgery, but his condition took a turn for the worse last week, sources said. He had been the company’s honorary chairman.
POSCO officials said that Park recently underwent a surgery to remove a cystic in his lung.
The South Gyeongsang Province native has been considered as one of the founding fathers of Korea Inc. He established Pohang Iron and Steel, POSCO’s predecessor, in 1968 after previously working for Korea Tungsten, which is now the Warren Buffett-owned TaeguTec.
During its first decade of existence, the Pohang-based steel firm grew into an industrial giant that produced 5.5 million tons of steel annually. Park stepped down from the company’s chairmanship in 1992 to fully concentrate on a political career.
Park, a four-term lawmaker, headed the Democratic Justice Party in 1988 and became a member of the Supreme Council the Democratic Liberal Party in 1990, both of which were the forerunner of the current Grand National Party.
He also led the defunct United Liberal Democrats in 1997 and helped late President Kim Dae-jung to win the presidential election in the same year. In 2000, Park served as prime minister.
In honor of his accomplishments, POSCO founded TJ Park Foundation in 2005 and it has annually awarded TJ Park prizes in the categories of science, education and community development and philanthropy.