Police said in the early hours of Friday local time that they had located Park Won-soon's body in Sungbuk-dong, a district in northern Seoul, the last location his cell phone had registered before being turned off. Park’s body was found in the hills, near a traditional restaurant and banquet hall.

A major police search operation lasting around seven hours had focused on that area. Police gave no information on a possible cause of death, but did say that they had found no initial indications of foul play.

His daughter had raised the alarm with police earlier in the day, saying that her father had left a "will-like" message and left the house without returning.

Park left the mayor's residence at about 10:40 a.m. local time, wearing a black hat and a backpack. Local reports indicated that he canceled a policy meeting scheduled for Thursday morning.


Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images

Rescue workers conduct a search operation for Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon in Seoul, South Korea, July 9, 2020

An official from the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Kim Ji-hyeong, told AP that Park did not show up for work on Thursday.

Domestic media and the AFP news agency reported that a former Seoul City employee had filed a sexual harassment complaint against Park with police on Wednesday evening. Local media claimed that a television channel was planning to broadcast news of the previously unreported case on Thursday evening.

Human rights lawyer turned mayor

Park was elected mayor of the sprawling capital city in 2011 and voted into his third and final term in June 2019.

The 64-year-old was a longtime civic activist and human rights lawyer, known for criticizing South Korea's growing social and economic inequalities. He defended political activists in the 1980s and 1990s before launching the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. The NGO helped to reform conglomerates that dominated South Korean businesses and became one of the largest non-profits in South Korea.

He played a major role in the Candlelight Demonstrations that led to the 2017 impeachment and 2018 conviction of former President Park Geun-hye.

Park Won-soon was a member of President Moon Jae-in's liberal Democratic Party and had been touted for a run at becoming South Korea's president in the country's next nationwide elections in 2022.

This article was originally published on Deutsche Welle. Read the original article here.

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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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