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(2nd LD) POSCO honorary chairman Park dies at 84

All Headlines 19:35 December 13, 2011

(ATTN: ADDS more details in 2nd para, paras 6-9)

SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- Park Tae-joon, honorary chairman of South Korea's top steelmaker POSCO, died of lung disease on Tuesday. Park was 84.

Park had been hospitalized at Yonsei University's Severance Hospital in Seoul since last week. He underwent lung surgery in 2002 but never fully recovered, hospital officials said.

Park has been 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.

The steelmaker is credited with helping the country become Asia's fourth-largest economy, rising from the ashes of the Korean War.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak expressed sorrow over Park's death.

"I am very sorry to hear Park who contributed much to the industrialization of the country is no longer with us. Park contributed much to the industrialization of the country," Lee said in a condolence message.

Park, who was regarded 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.

Park left POSCO in 1993 after his political opponent Kim Young-sam took office as president.

The veteran politician also served as prime minister in 2001 under the Kim Dae-jung administration. He has been POSCO's honorary chairman since 2002.

He is survived by a wife, one son and four daughters.

sam@yna.co.kr
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