Prime Minister Park ResignsPrime Minister Park Tae-joon shared memories at his farewell party at the conference room at the government complex on May 19.
TJ held his post for only 4 months and 6 days, third shortest in Korean history following Heo Jung (2 months, 3 days) and Lee Hoi-chang (4 months, 4 days). TJ's resignation comes amid rumors of inproprieties and casts a shadow on his long political career.
He was in the 6th graduating class at the Korea Military Academy and made a name for himself working as Chief Secretary under Park Chung-hee's Supreme Council on National Reconstruction (SCNR) in 1961.
TJ became the president of the Korea Tungsten Mining Company and led major reforms in the economy headed by former President Park. In 1968, he became the president of POSCO. Foreign businessmen called TJ the 'Steel King' when he led POSCO to great international success. In 1978, China's Deng Xiaoping said, "Would it be possible to import Park Tae-joon?" as China was preparing for the construction of an iron mill.
TJ began his political life under Chun Doo-hwan's regime as a member of the National Assembly. He was elected twice (11th and 13th session) and was a big figure in the administration until Kim Young-sam's inauguration, when he was prosecuted on bribery and tax evasion charges, as well as resigning from the assembly.
Upon becoming prime minister, TJ said that it would be his "last cross."
At the press conference to announce his resignation, TJ dismissed his critics. "It's true that I have been subjected to a wholesale inspection, but I haven't committed any big crime." He added, "I have a clear conscious."
TJ has been charged with "tax evasion through the tranfer of real estate titles to another," and in a season of political housecleaning, his downfall is both timely and deserved.
by Ko Jung-he