- On Wednesday, hours before his disappearance, a former municipal employee had filed a complaint to the police.
- His daughter said that he “had left home four to five hours ago after leaving words like a will, with his phone currently off.”
- Park was considered a possible Liberal Democratic presidential candidate in the 2022 election.
The mayor of Seoul, South Korea was found dead today in unclear circumstances in the nation’s capital. His daughter had earlier reported his disappearance and alerted that his father left a message “like a will” before leaving the house some four or five hours earlier.
On Wednesday, hours before his disappearance, a former municipal employee had filed a complaint to the police, allegedly for sexual harrassment, against Park Won-soon, 64. Local media outlets said a television channel was planning to broadcast a program about the case.
The complainant alleged that Park had physical contact with her several times since she began working under him, and presented Telegram messages that she had exchanged with him as evidence. According to her testimony, there were also other women sexually assaulted by the mayor. Police were planning to call Park as part of the investigation of the case.
Authorities were looking for him in the Sungbuk neighborhood of the South Korean capital, from where his cell phone signal had last been switched. His daughter then called the police after she was unable to trace him, saying that he “had left home four to five hours ago after leaving words like a will, with his phone currently off.”
Some 770 officers, including police, fire, and medical personnel, participated in the search, equipped with drones and trained dogs. The exact location of the body has not yet been confirmed, but a police source told the AP that it was found near a traditional restaurant, located in the hills, in northern Seoul.
Park last appeared in public Wednesday morning, at a press conference on the Green New Deal, promoted by his government in Seoul, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while creating jobs.
A municipal government official, Kim Ji-hyeong, confirmed that Park had not reported to the office on Thursday for unspecified reasons. He further reported that he had canceled all his activities, including a meeting with a presidential official.
Park, born in 1956 in Changyeong, in the South Gyeongsang Province (southeast of the country), was a civic activist and human rights lawyer, who was elected mayor of Seoul in 2011, and re-elected for a third term in June last year.
He was the first person in history to be elected as Mayor of Seoul for three consecutive terms, an indication that he was a very popular politician in the country. He was a member of President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party, and was considered a possible Democratic presidential candidate in the 2022 election.
Park never ceased his activism, even as a mayor. He criticized what he called the country’s growing economic inequality and traditionally corrupt relations between big businessmen and politicians.
He was a bitter opponent of former conservative President Park Geun-hye, and openly supported the protests of millions of people demanding his removal in 2016 and 2017 due to a corruption scandal.