World: A Very Tough Peasant

''Remember, he was tough. Very, very tough. Even the opposition respected him and understood this.'' So said former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Richard Sneider last week about the man who made his poverty-afflicted country a model of economic development. Aloof, authoritarian and disdainful, Park Chung Hee demanded respect, not popularity. And that is what he got.

Park was born into a poor peasant family in 1917 near the city of Taegu.

After attending a village primary school and later a government-run teachers college, he became a smalltown teacher in 1937. Tiring of academic...

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