Seoul’s missing Mayor Park found dead, Yonhap reports

by BLOOMBERG / pic by BLOOMBERG

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon (picture), viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, has been found dead, Yonhap News Agency reported. It did not immediately give further details.

Park’s daughter said he was missing on Thursday, telling the police his phone was cut off and that he made comments as though he was delivering a will before leaving, Yonhap reported earlier. Police launched a massive search, deploying more than 500 officers and rescue personnel, drones and sniffer dogs.

Park, 64, was seen near a park in Seoul by surveillance cameras at 10:53 a.m. and was reported missing at 5:17 p.m., South Korean authorities said.

The mayor of Seoul, a city of about 10 million people, since 2011, Park was viewed as a contender to replace President Moon Jae-in when his single, five-year term ends. Both are members of the progressive Democratic Party, and the Seoul mayor is often considered the second-most powerful elected official in South Korea after the president.

Park was re-elected to a four-year term as mayor in 2018 and had been a civil rights lawyer before entering politics, working on a landmark sexual harassment case and seeking justice for those who suffered under Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.

In recent months, Park was at the forefront of the country’s battle against the coronavirus.

Seoul’s government had canceled his planned events for the day due to an “unavoidable situation” and that included a meeting that was to be held at 4 p.m., Yonhap and national broadcaster KBS reported.