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[Newsmaker] Gaffes, abuse shame Doosan Heavy chairman

“It is not good manners to not strike one’s neck when one has asked for it. I will strike in the most bloody and painful way possible.”

The graphic comments are not threats by IS terrorists on YouTube videos. Instead, they are from Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction chairman Park Yong-sung, a business tycoon, in an email he sent to professors at Chung-Ang University in Seoul where he was serving as the board chairman.

Park on Tuesday stepped down from all three posts after sparking controversy over threatening to fire those opposing the board’s plans to change the university’s admission process. He is also the honorary president of the Korean Olympic Committee.

True to the words “manners maketh man” from the hit movie “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” Park’s manners, expressed through his coarse words, have made him the man he is today. 

Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction chairman Park Yong-sung. Yonhap
Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction chairman Park Yong-sung. Yonhap

In his case, he is a man left unemployed. His manners, the standard of which was brought into question by his harsh words, cost him his official posts when their original intents were to render, or at least threaten, other jobless.

It is not the first time that Park’s inconsiderate comments have left scars on the company and his family.

Park, the third son of Doosan Group’s late founder Park Too-pyong, garnered attention in 2005 when he ousted his older brother Park Yong-oh as chairman in a power struggle. The brawl between the two brothers, which included revelations and harsh condemnation, reportedly led Yong-oh to commit suicide in 2009.

After the family conflict, Park was convicted of accounting fraud. Doosan Group is now led by his younger brother Park Yong-maan, who is chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

During the former Roh Moo-hyun administration, he criticized the government by saying “there are never actions taken for South Korea. This country is just a ‘NATO’ ― No Action Talks Only.”

Regarding the country’s labor unions, Park said unionists move in groups to throw “tantrums,” while Korea’s politicians were “third rate (people who) have lost the ability to resolve discord.”

Some said the outgoing chairman is a man who speaks up when others are unable or unwilling, but in most cases the incidents left the company in a difficult situation.

Workers at Doosan Heavy said the chairman is like a stubborn “bulldozer” who always acts on his beliefs. “I never heard him make inappropriate comments to the employees, but the latest scandal is probably due to his tendency to realize his will at any cost,” a Doosan Heavy employee said on the condition of anonymity.

Park, a 75-year-old businessman, is a Seoul National University graduate who received his master’s at NYU Stern School of Business. He was named Doosan Heavy chairman in 2001 and also served as the chairman of Doosan Infracore and Doosan Group.

The chairman was credited for his contribution to the nation’s sports industry after being named a member of the International Olympic Committee in 2001, but he lost his membership in 2007 after being found guilty of embezzlement.

By Suk Gee-hyun (