POSCO Chairman Kwon Oh-jun voluntarily resigned on April 18, saying that his resignation is necessary to usher in new leadership of the company. Some point out that the real reason for his resignation is pressure from the government in that the prosecution’s investigation into POSCO subsidiaries is going on.
The chairman took office in 2014. Since then, he has restructured the company for business and financial structure improvement while working on future growth drivers. On April 18, the company held an emergency board meeting to ask him not to resign. Still, the chairman was insistent. He was elected early last year to serve consecutive terms until March 2020.
As mentioned above, the prosecution recently initiated its investigation into POSCO subsidiaries, such as POSCO Engineering & Construction, after a civic organization accused seven former and current executives of embezzlement. It has been said that the chairman is related to the Choi Soon-sil scandal and he has been excluded from President Moon Jae-in’s overseas trips for the same reason.
Former POSCO chairmen’s post-regime change resignation has been repeated over and over. Founder Park Tae-joon did so in discord with the then ruling party and the fourth chairman, Kim Man-je, voluntarily stepped down immediately after the late former President Kim Dae-jung took office. Likewise, the fifth to seventh chairmen, Yoo Sang-bu, Lee Ku-taek and Chung Joon-yang, did so after the inauguration of the Roh Moo-hyun, Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye governments, respectively.
Under the circumstances, concerns are increasing over the vulnerable governance structure of POSCO, which was turned into a private company 18 years ago.