July 10, 2020 09:34
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon was found dead around midnight Friday after a seven-hour search.
Police said Park's daughter reported him missing late Thursday afternoon after he had not been seen since leaving his home in the morning. He did not show up for work and canceled his schedule citing health issues.
Records show the mayor spoke with someone at 2:42 p.m. in Seoul's Jongno district and his mobile phone signal ended at a golf range in Mt. Bukak at around 4 p.m., where the body was eventually found by sniffer dogs.
Police have ruled out foul play. His daughter told police that he sent a message that was "like a will" before leaving home in the morning and turning off his phone.
He was facing allegations of sexual misconduct. On Wednesday, a former secretary of the mayor's filed a police report accusing him of repeated sexual harassment. She was questioned until Thursday morning and gave detailed accounts of the alleged offenses, which she said occurred when she worked for him in 2017, submitting mobile chat messages and several explicit photos Park sent to her as evidence.
She also told police that there were more victims, but they were too scared to come forward.
Some 428 police officers, 157 firefighters, three sniffer dogs and three drones were involved in the search on Mt. Bukak.
An ex-human rights lawyer formerly associated with the civic group People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Park (64) was elected Seoul mayor by a landslide 10 years ago and re-elected in 2014 and 2018, making him the longest-serving mayor of the capital and a potential presidential contender. His term was to have lasted until 2022 and was focused on controversial welfare programs and redevelopment projects.
Park is not the first senior figure in the ruling Democratic Party to be accused of sexual misconduct. Former South Chungcheong Province governor Ahn Hee-jung is in jail after being found guilty of raping his secretary, while ex-Busan mayor Oh Keo-don resigned after he was accused of sexually harassing a female civil servant.
Park's body was moved to the morgue of Seoul National University Hospital. The funeral is slated for Monday next week.
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