SEOUL -- Four years ago, Peter Ueberroth went from president of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee to national prominence and his current job as commissioner of major league baseball and a future that some day may include running for political office.
His counterpart with the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee (SOOC) is Park Seh Jik, 54, a retired army major general who spent almost 30 years in the military. He oversees an organization of hundreds of professionals, as well as an army of volunteers that will, by the Games' opening on Sept. 17, reach more than 27,000.
"We tried to follow many of Los Angeles' concepts," Park said in an interview last week in his big office at Olympic Center. "We worked hard at trying to raise money from television revenues, sale of Olympic coins and tickets and a lottery."
And, with a smile, Park coyly added, "The baseball commissioner's job in Korea is vacant."
Like Ueberroth, Park prefers to keep his future plans to himself. But his diverse background (Korean Teachers College, military academy, liberal arts and sciences, business school, as well as a master's degree in education from the University of Southern California) makes him an attractive personality.
He was minister of sports for one year before becoming president of the SOOC in May 1986 when he took over the planning of the Olympics and running of the Asian Games that summer.
"There could be various voices heard," he replied when asked if he expected demonstrations during the Olympics. "But the people are behind the Games. We don't expect problems during the Games.
"Our objective is to have the biggest and best Olympics ever," he continued. "We have an opportunity to present a new image of Korea in the Olympics. The success or failure of the Olympics will affect the political situation in many ways. That's why SOOC must be independent of politics and have the support of whichever government is in power."