Seoul mayor Park Won-soon found dead after police search – National


SEOUL, South Korea – The missing mayor of the South Korean capital, apparently involved in allegations of sexual harassment, was found dead early Friday, more than half a day after giving his daughter a message similar to a will and then left home, police said.Police said they located Park Won-soon’s body near a traditional restaurant in the wooded hills north of Seoul, more than seven hours after launching a massive search against him.

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Her daughter called the police on Thursday afternoon and said that her father had given her a “will-like” verbal message in the morning before leaving the house. She did not explain the contents of the message, said an officer from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency who was responsible for the search operation.

Police said they had mobilized around 600 police and firefighters, drones and tracking dogs to search for Park in the hills, where his cell phone signal was last detected. They said the phone had been turned off when they tried to call it.

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His daughter called the police after he was unable to reach her father on the phone, said the Seoul police officer, requesting anonymity because she was not allowed to speak to the media at this meeting. subject.

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Kim Ji-hyeong, an official with the Seoul metropolitan government, said that Park had not come to work on Thursday for unspecified reasons and had canceled all his hours, including a meeting with a presidential at his city hall office. Seoul.

The reason for Park’s disappearance was unclear. Seoul-based SBS television reported that one of Park’s secretaries had filed a complaint with police on Wednesday evening for alleged sexual harassment, such as unwanted physical contact that had started in 2017. The SBS report , who quoted no sources, said The secretary told police investigators that an unspecified number of other women workers at Seoul City Hall had experienced similar sexual harassment from Park .

MBC television published a similar report.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and the Park office said they could not confirm the information.

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Police officer Lee Byeong-seok told reporters that Park was last identified by a security camera at 10:53 a.m. at the entrance to the hills, more than six hours before his daughter called the police. police to report his disappearance.

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Firefighter Jeong Jin-hyang told reporters Thursday that rescuers had used dogs to search dangerous areas in the hills.

Park, 64, a long-time civic activist and human rights lawyer, was elected mayor of Seoul in 2011. He became the city’s first mayor to be elected for a third term in June 2018. Member of the Liberal Democratic Party of President Moon Jae-in, he was considered a potential presidential candidate in the 2022 elections.

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Park had mostly retained his militant mayor colors, criticizing what he described as the country’s growing social and economic inequalities and the corrupt links between big business and politicians.

As a lawyer, he was found guilty of the first conviction for sexual harassment in the country. He also openly criticized Japan’s colonial policies towards Korea, including the mobilization of Korean women and other women as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.

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Park has also established himself as a fierce opponent of former conservative President Park Geun-hye and has openly supported the millions who flooded the city streets in late 2016 and 2017, calling for his ouster for a corruption scandal. .

Park Geun-hye, daughter of the late authoritarian leader Park Chung-hee, was officially removed from office in March 2017 and is currently serving a dozen-year prison sentence for corruption and other charges.

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Seoul, a city of 10 million, has become a new center for the coronavirus epidemic in South Korea since the country relaxed its strict social distancing rules in early May. Authorities have struggled to find contacts amid surges in cases related to nightclubs, religious services, a huge e-commerce warehouse and door-to-door vendors in Seoul.

Park Won-soon waged an aggressive anti-virus campaign, shutting down thousands of nightclubs and banning rallies on the main streets of downtown.

© 2020 The Canadian Press


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