Park Won-soon: Mayor of Seoul found dead after going missing

 
Park Won-soon speaks during an event at Seoul City Hall on Wednesday - REUTERS


Police in the South Korean capital Seoul have found the body of the city's mayor after he went missing on Thursday.
Park Won-soon's daughter reportedly told police he had left a message before leaving the house, leading her to raise the alarm.

His body was found at Mount Bugak in northern Seoul, near where his phone signal was last detected.

No cause of death has yet been declared.

However, police said they were investigating the case as a suicide, according to the Yonhap news agency.

A note was later released that appeared to be written by Mr Park. It said: "I'm sorry to everyone. I thank everyone who has been with me in my life."

It has emerged that a female employee had filed a sexual harassment claim against Mr Park in the hours before he went missing, but there has been no confirmation that this played a role.

He did not show up for work on Thursday, cancelling a meeting with a presidential official at his Seoul City Hall office, Kim Ji-hyeong, an official from the Seoul Metropolitan Government, told the Associated Press.

Police officer Lee Byeong-seok told reporters that Park was seen by a security camera at 10:53 near the entrance to the wooded area where the phone signal was last detected.

About 600 police and fire officers using drones and dogs searched the area for hours on Thursday.

Crowds gathered outside the Seoul National University hospital late on Thursday amid unconfirmed reports that Mr Park had been found and taken there.

Mr Park was first elected mayor of Seoul in 2011 and elected to an unprecedented third and final term in June of last year.

He clashed with President Park Geun-hye, openly supporting millions of people who protested against her in 2017 before she was eventually charged and imprisoned on bribery and other charges.

As a member of President Moon Jae-in's liberal Democratic Party, Mr Park was reportedly under consideration as a potential presidential hopeful in the 2022 elections.


Analysis: A death mired in controversy
Laura Bicker, BBC News, Seoul
Mayor Park Won-soon was well liked for a reason.

As a lawyer, he had fought to further the cause of women - winning the country's first sexual harassment case. He highlighted this country's many economic inequalities, once even spending a month in a cramped home in a poor part of the city.

He fought against authoritarian rule in South Korea and was put in prison in the 1970's as a college student, and went on to win an unprecedented third term as mayor of Seoul.

But his death is now mired in controversy.

We may now never get to the truth behind the claims of sexual harassment filed against him just hours before his death.

The investigation has been dropped which means there will be no further inquiry into potentially serious issues within one of the highest political offices in the country. There will also be no justice - either for his alleged victim or for him.

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