The mayor of the South Korean capital, Seoul, has been missing and a search is underway, city police announced on Thursday.
Police said they were looking for Park Won-soon in a wooded, hilly area north of the city, where his cell phone signal was last detected.
They stated that Mr. Park’s cell phone was currently turned off.
Her daughter reportedly told the police that he left a message before leaving the house, which caused her to sound the alarm.
He failed to show up for work Thursday, canceling a meeting with a presidential official in his Seoul city hall office, Kim Ji-hyeong, an official with 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 am near the entrance to the wooded area where his phone signal was last detected. On Thursday, around 600 police and firefighters using drones and dogs searched the area for hours.
Meanwhile, crowds gathered outside Seoul National University Hospital on Thursday evening amid unconfirmed reports that Mr. Park had been found and taken there.
Unconfirmed reports on Thursday suggested that Mr. Park was facing an employee sexual harassment complaint in the hours before his disappearance, but police did not confirm the information.
Mr. Park was elected mayor of Seoul in 2011 and elected for his third and last term in June of last year.
As a member of President Moon Jae-in’s Liberal Democratic Party, Mr. Park was reportedly considered a potential presidential candidate in the 2022 elections.
With his re-election last year, Mr. Park became the first city mayor to begin a third term. He had carried his story as a civic activist and human rights lawyer in his tenure as mayor, and was a outspoken critic of social inequality and corruption in South Korea.
As a lawyer, he was recognized for having obtained the first conviction for sexual harassment in the country.
He clashed with former president Park Geun-hye, openly supporting millions of people who demonstrated against her in 2017 and 2017, before she was finally charged and imprisoned, for corruption and other charges.