[Tae-Joon Park Commemoration] An Encounter with Tae-Joon Park, the Founder of POSTECH
[Tae-Joon Park Commemoration] An Encounter with Tae-Joon Park, the Founder of POSTECH
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  • 승인 2012.01.01 13:18
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I wrote this by recalling the precious ties with our university’s founder, late Tae-Joon Park.

It was late August in 1985 when late Hogil Kim came to KAIST in Hong-reung, Seoul in order to persuade me to participate in his impressive dream to construct a world-class university specialized in science and technology. His logic was that we were all fully capable to construct the university led by great faculty from both domestic and foreign backgrounds with ten or so great scholars by amassing the excellent students with the preeminent financial resources of POSCO. In a little while, the four-party talks between the executive secretary of Park and the director of the headquarters of construction of the university were held by declaring the strong statement of intent on support from POSCO.

I was concerned about my position while I visited Pohang to provide overall advice on the construction of a university. At the age of almost 60, it was too unclear to take the risk of restarting a new life in empty Pohang, throwing up my position of the senior professor who had filled in vice president at KAIST. I was not sure about the future of POSTECH, how strong the will of POSCO was, whether they were resolved to support the university and had vision, and who guaranteed the autonomy of the university.

In the meanwhile, I met Park when visiting Pohang in the spring of 1986. Sitting with late Park and President Kim in the chairman's office, it was a chance to verify his conviction and vision of the university. After stating his view about our country’s future which depended upon the development of science and technology, through his mouth I heard the so-called diversification strategy which business entailed from the research results of the university should make 40 percent of the entire profit of POSCO. Indeed, a far-sighted idea as it was. He had already known he could not stay at POSCO forever. Accordingly, he conceived the foundation with the strong financial background in order for the financial independence of the university. At that time, I made up my mind and I started my new post with my wife, Prof. Jongsoon Kim in February 1987. While I had a job at POSTECH, I met Park from time to time. Thanks to his massive support for several years while I handled everything about the research projects as the first graduate dean, and I didn’t disappoint.

One of my most vivid memories of him was the meeting at his daughter’s house at Montclair, New Jersey near New York City. It was the time when my wife and I had a sabbatical year near Washington in 1995. It was late August in 1995 when I went to see him after a 3-hour drive. As long as I heard, it was right after the big surgery and he was not so healthy. However, when I came and saw, he was in quite good condition and I could not find any bitterness from his organized and tidy appearance. From 2 P.M. to 4 P.M. we had an interesting conversation, and during the conversation, I was able to find his affectionate interests in POSTECH. He spent days in faraway U.S. agonizing over the difficulty of raising the necessary capital for operating the state-of-art research facility, Pohang Light Source of Pohang Accelerator Laboratory. When the conversation was in full swing, he had to go to the doctor and we cannot but hurry away.

We all should remember the fact that we could not have the present POSTECH without his obvious vision and massive momentum and the constant sincerity and support.

Professor Emeritus of CE, Kim, Young-Gul