Prosecutors Appeal for Help in Catching Ferry Owner

Prosecutors on Thursday appealed for help from the public in catching fugitive ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon, issuing a detailed description in hopes of tip-offs.

Among other things, the Supreme Public Prosecutors' Office cited prison records compiled in the four years Yoo spent in the Anyang penitentiary from 1991 to 1995 as showing that the end of the third finger on his left hand is curved.

A soldier stops cars in a nationwide manhunt for ferry owner Yoo Byeong-eon in Jindo, South Jeolla Province on Thursday. /Newsis A soldier stops cars in a nationwide manhunt for ferry owner Yoo Byeong-eon in Jindo, South Jeolla Province on Thursday. /Newsis

A nationwide manhunt that has dragged on for weeks has failed to catch the fugitive, who is also the leader of a cult and has had comprehensive support from ardent followers.

A joint meeting of prosecutors, government officials, police and military officers Thursday decided to set up a hotline for tip-offs. The Coast Guard and Joint Chiefs of Staff selected 219 locations across the country where Yoo could escape by boat and beefed up patrols there.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Incheon arrested Yoo's personal secretary, identified by her surname Kim (55), who was also a director at a design company owned by Yoo's eldest daughter, Sum-na.

Prosecutors will decide whether to indict Kim after looking into the role she played in helping Yoo, an undischarged bankrupt, embezzle vast amounts of money from ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine and affiliates.

Prosecutors also continued their search of a sprawling compound south of Seoul belonging to Yoo’s cult, but failed to nab any key figures. They searched for signs of an underground tunnel at the compound, but came up empty-handed due to a lack of proper equipment.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 13, 2014 10:02 KST