The mayor of South Korea’s capital Seoul, who went missing amid allegations of sexual harassment, was found dead hours after his daughter reported leaving a verbal message that sounded like a will, according to a report.
Police found Park Won dead soon after launching a massive search for him in the hills stretching north of Seoul, where his cell phone signal was last detected, the Yonhap news agency reported.
Park, who has long been viewed as a possible presidential candidate, allegedly faced allegations of sexual misconduct. His daughter said he had left his home after saying what sounded like “last words,” according to Reuters.
She did not specify the content of the message, according to an official with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency who was responsible for the search.
Government official Kim Ji-hyeong said Park did not come to work Thursday for unspecified reasons and that he had canceled all his meetings for the day.
The Seoul-based SBS television network reported that one of the mayor’s secretaries had filed a complaint with police the day before about alleged sexual harassment, such as unwanted physical contact that started in 2017.
The report, which did not cite any sources, said the woman told investigators that an unspecified number of other City Hall employees had suffered similar sexual harassment from Park. MBC TV carried a similar report.
Police and the mayor’s office said they could not confirm the reports.
Police spokesman Lee Byeong-seok said Park was last identified by a security camera at 10:53 am at the entrance to the hills, more than six hours before his daughter reported him missing. .
Park, a veteran civic activist and human rights lawyer who had been mayor since 2011, was seen as a potential presidential candidate for liberals during the 2022 presidential election.
He had established himself as a fierce opponent of former Conservative President Park Geun-hye and backed the millions of people who flooded the city’s streets in late 2016 and 2017, calling for his removal in the midst of a corruption scandal.
Park Geun-hye, who was removed from office in 2017, is serving a long prison term for bribery and other charges.