(EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is reprinted from HFPN, the Han-Feng Physics News, 96-03, February 1, 1996. HFPN will feature major universities and research institutes in the Pacific Rim region, from New Zealand to Chile). 


Until 1968, Pohang was but a small fishery town with population of no more than 50,000, located on the southeastern coast of Korea, about 160 miles southeast of Seoul and about 60 miles due north of Pusan. Then came in 1968 the Pohang Iron and Steel Company, POSCO, followed by POSTECH, the Pohang University of Science and Technology, RIST, the Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology, and PLS, the Pohang Light Source. The once sleepy town was transformed into an industrial, academic and research city of 500,000, becoming one of the most important addresses in Korea. 


Since its founding in 1968, POSCO, the Pohang Iron and Steel Company, has grown into one of the largest steel makers in the world. POSCO now has two steel making plants, the original one in Pohang and a new Kang'yang complex in the southern coastline of Korea. Its capacity of 21 million tons annual output ranks it with the largest steel mills in the world - including Nippon Steel and Kobe Steel of Japan. POSCO is a semi-public company with 35% of its shares being held by the Korean government. 


In 1985, the founding CEO of POSCO, Mr. Park, Taejoon, had a vision: a triad of academic-research-industry complex would be built in Pohang, anchored at POSCO. The academic component would be a university of science and engineering, and a research and development component would be established to bridge the basic research and manufacturing. The two would be built simultaneously. This was the inception of POSTECH and RIST. Mr. Park would find the right man to start both projects in the late Dr. Hogil Kim, who received his physics education in England and later nurtured in the United States (Maryland and Berkeley). The groundbreaking was held in December of 1985 for both POSTECH and RIST. And the rest, as they say, is history. Both faculty and students grew at steady pace, laboratories and equipment were set up, and the dream of a first-rate world-class university of science and technology was becoming a reality one small step at a time. 

Beginning in 1987, barely two years after its inauguration, POSTECH began to draw students from the top 2% of high school graduates. It is a private, coeducational institution of higher learning devoted to science and engineering and at present comprised of 10 departments; chemistry, mathematics, physics, life science, computer science, materials science & metallurgical engineering, mechanical engineering, electronic & electrical engineering, and chemical engineering, and general education. A new Graduate School of Information Technology was established in 1991, a new Graduate School of Iron & Steel Technology in 1994, and a similar graduate school of Environmental Technology is slated to open this year. The university has 1,300 undergraduates and 1,000 graduate students. The university has aggressively recruited some 170 faculty members in the first five years and now has the faculty of over 200 professors with the average age of 45. The relationship between POSTECH and POSCO has also evolved; POSCO has changed its role from that of the sole controlling benefactor to that of a major research contractor. Presently there are 15 research institutes or centers on campus including the POSTECH Information Laboratory, the Pohang Light Source and five Science Research Centers and Engineering Research Centers endowed by the Korean Science and Engineering Foundation. Recently the university obtained a major endowment from the LG Electronics and another major endowment for the Graduate School on Environmental Technology from the Ministry of Education. The University's operating budget comes from its endowment valued at about 400 million US dollars and the overheads from research grants amounting to about 50 million US dollars annually. Tuition covers only a small fraction of the budget. 

Recognizing early on the crucial importance of the information superhighway, POSTECH managed to fully network itself to the rest of the world: it is networked by LAN with a FDDI backbone, which is connected to the rest of Korea by the KORNet with T1 (1.544Mb/s) and another slower but recently upgraded Kreonet. The speed of these lines is expected to reach 650Mb/s in 1997. In addition to its library which is connected to other libraries in the world, the Andrew File System (/afs/) implemented at POSTECH is its first in Korea. 


In April 1991, a task force was formed to construct the $200 million Pohang Light Source (PLS) by the end of 1994. The Light Source, Korea's first particle accelerator, will produce synchrotron radiation from the 2 Gev storage ring which will help serve the national needs for research in basic and applied sciences. The PLS is now completed and is operational with about 150 staff and many visitors from about 350-member user group. The 

Web homepages for POSTECH and for its Physics Department contain further information. Both POSTECH and its Physics Department are linked to the HFPN Webvision . (This article has been prepared based on materials provided by Professor Seunghwan Kim, Associate Professor of Physics and Associate Professor of Mathematics, Pohang University of Science and Technology. Co-Editors would like to express their appreciation to Professor S. Kim)