The mayor of Seoul has been found dead on a mountainside, more than half a day after leaving his daughter a will-like message, police said.
A massive search involving up to 400 officers, drones and dogs was launched after his daughter reported her father missing on Thursday afternoon.
Park left the official residence at around 10.40am, wearing a black hat and a backpack, having cancelled a policy meeting that was scheduled for Thursday morning, according to multiple local reports.
Mr Park Won-soon’s body was found at Mt Bugak in northern Seoul, near where his phone signal was last detected during a late-night search, police said.
As longtime mayor of the city of nearly 10 million people, Mr Park was one of the country’s most influential politicians and played a high-profile role in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
He was considered a potential presidential candidate for the liberal Democratic Party in 2022 elections.
No cause of death has been announced but police ruled out foul play.
Mr Park’s daughter said her father left “a will-like” message before leaving their home about four to five hours earlier.
The daughter did not explain the contents of the message, an officer at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said.
His daughter said she decided to call police because she could not reach her father on the phone, the officer said on the condition of anonymity.
Kim Ji-hyeong, a Seoul Metropolitan Government official, said Park had not shown up for work on Thursday for unspecified reasons and had cancelled his schedule, including a meeting with a presidential official at his Seoul City Hall office.
The reason for Park’s disappearance was not clear.
The Seoul-based SBS television network reported that one of Park’s secretaries had lodged a complaint with police on Wednesday night over alleged sexual harassment such as unwanted physical contact that began in 2017.
The SBS report, which did not cite any source, said the secretary told police investigators that an unspecified number of other female employees at Seoul City Hall had suffered similar sexual harassment by Park.
MBC television carried a similar report while CNN quoted Choi Ik-soo, an official at Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Crime department, confirming a legal complaint involving Park had been filed and submitted to police on Wednesday.
Mr Park, a longtime civic activist and human rights lawyer, won a landslide election to become Seoul mayor in 2011.
He became the city’s first mayor to be voted into a third term in June last year.
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