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The history of Korea during the twentieth century was one principally of hardship and triumph. In order to reach its current place in the world, this country has had to overcome a slew of intimidating obstacles - colonial rule, war, physical devastation, abject poverty, political corruption, apparent and severe opposition between supporters of industrialization and democratization, needlessly destructive ideological conflicts, and the foreign currency crisis at the end of the 20th century. Despite all of this, Korea remains the only country that has achieved both industrialization and democratization among all newly independent countries after World War II. Thanks to these achievements, Korea today stands on firm ground for the advancement of its economy and democratic ideals, the spread of its culture, science and technology, and its quest for peaceful reunification with its long separated neighbor in the north.

The late Mr. Park Tae-joon underwent a number of national tragedies during his youth and subsequently dedicated his life to his poverty-stricken country and the altar of modernization for half a century upon the late president Park Chung-hee’s invitation in the 1960s. During his later years he brought the foreign currency crisis under control and capped a lifetime of notable political and economic achievements. When he passed away at age eighty-four on December 13, 2011, both Korean and international media alike hailed him as a hero and political giant, laying wreaths on his grave. Those titles were the ultimate honors bequeathed to him by his contemporaries.

These words of honor, however, might bog us down in the swamp of false memories. The name “hero” may magnify his achievements, obscuring a full and complete portrait. A hero is often revived through a monument of his achievements. This is an old custom in most societies and a prospect that it is difficult for the deceased to avoid. It would be easy for Mr. Park to fall victim to conventionality, and posterity might immortalize his achievements while failing to preserve the spirit of the man.

The motto “Let me devote my short life to my eternal fatherland!” was Park Tae-joon’s lifelong compass, one whose needle never budged throughout his life. Armed with a pure-hearted patriotism and a sense of his own historic mission, he pursued his career embodying his beliefs: “Patriotism by Steel Manufacturing” and “Patriotism by Education.” He built POSCO from nothing and turned it into the most advanced steel company in the world and a driving force of modernization in Korea. Mr. Park also founded fourteen exemplary schools from kindergarten to high school. He founded POSTECH, the first research-oriented university in Korea, and built it into a world-class university. The schools he founded boast some of the highest educational achievements in Korea’s educational history. He also studied and devised practical strategies for the future of politics, national security, culture, international relations, and national unification as well as Korea’s economy, education, science, and technology. Mr. Park never wavered from this road to the goal of advancing his country, resolutely ignoring many of the pleasures and pursuits of daily life.

Remembering Mr. Park’s dedication to the greater good of his country through his achievements alone would mean posterity is failing to pay him his true honors and neglecting his spiritual legacies. Therefore, following in the work of the Committee for the Commemoration of Park Tae-Joon, POSTECH is proud to establish the Tae-Joon Park Institute. This institute will provide an in-depth look into Mr. Park’s life, thoughts, and leadership, illuminating them to students and the general public in collaboration with the educational world and both Korean and international academia. In this way we will also devise new strategies and discourses for our future by sharing his thoughts and achievements in various fields with the intellectual world. The Tae-Joon Park Institute solemnly declares that starting from today it will continue to be a pioneer for the future, a future deserving of both the achievements and spirit of Mr. Park Tae Joon.

February 15, 2013

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