Two months ago, it took a crew of six men and seven moving vans to cart off Tongsun Park's possessions from his lavishly furnished Georgetown mansion, seized last year by the Internal Revenue Service.
Yesterday, the indicted businessman and central figure in the Korean influence buying scandal on Capitol Hill, stood in a drafty Alexandria warehouse surrounded by the packing crates and said philosophically, "These are material things. They come and they go."
Prevented by two IRS agents from opening the boxes, Park was handed an inventory sheet that listed every item seized by the government; from a concert grand piano to an open pack of 17 cigarettes.
"I came to see that everything was all right," Park said yesterday. "My main concern is the art works, the pottery and the paintings. They are replaceable."
Park faltered, 'I mean, irreplaceable."
Accompanied by two business associates and the IRS agents, Park arrived at the Smith Moving & Storage Co. in Alexandria yesterday morning to inspect his belongings. Inside the six foot high crates, according to a warehouse employe, were objects that "would blow your mind."
The employe said 30 200-cubic-foot boxes were required to store the possessions, which include 400 three-piece suits, hundreds of pairs of shoes, rugs, and priceless antiques. General manager John Woolrich said yesterday, "I think it's the largest collection of belongings we've ever stored for one private citizen."
One of Park's associates was seen yesterday photographing the crates, stacked in the dimly lit, cavernous warehouse.
Park declined to put a price on his furnishings, but said, "It is a substantial amount."
Last year the IRS seized Park's two Washington homes in an apparent effort to keep his assets from being sold or moved out of the country. The government is claiming the former lobbyist owed $4.5 million in taxes.
Park, who was abroad at the time, later filed suit against IRS to recover his possessions.
The suit is currently in U.S. Tax Court in Washington. Park's attorneys declined to comment yesterday on the case, which is not connected to the Capitol Hill influence buying scheme in which the Korean businessman has testified he paid out over $800,000 to more than 30 legislators.
Park said yesterday he was not in the country when his belongings were removed two months ago from his home at 2211 30th St. NW to the Alexandria warehouse.
Asked if the news upset him, Park replied, "I am a human being."
A warehouse employe said it was costing the IRS more than $2,000 a month to store Park's belongings.
Normally, objects of an IRS seizure may be sold - with the owner's permission - within 45 days. Since Park's tax case is still in litigation, the government is responsible for storing the goods. If Park loses the suit, the furnishings will most likely be sold at auction, one IRS agent said yesterday.
Park appeared relaxed as he strolled through the warehouse yesterday, and posed for a photographer, one arm around each of the IRS agents.
"I have said from the very beginning that I would not be bitter," Park said of his troubles. "Life must go on."