Seoul mayor died by suicide a day after he was accused of sexual harassment

WION Web Team
Seoul, South Korea Published: Jul 10, 2020, 12:18 PM(IST)

Seoul mayor dies by suicide Photograph:( AFP )

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Park Won-soon, whose body was recovered on a mountain in the capital, is by far the most high-profile politician to be implicated in a harassment case in South Korea. He offered a general apology in a suicide note -- handwritten with ink and brush -- found at his official residence and released by city authorities.

The mayor of Seoul, a contender to be South Korea's next president and a former human rights lawyer, died by suicide a day after he was accused of sexual harassment.

Park Won-soon, whose body was recovered on a mountain in the capital, is by far the most high-profile politician to be implicated in a harassment case in South Korea. He offered a general apology in a suicide note -- handwritten with ink and brush -- found at his official residence and released by city authorities.

"I'm sorry to everyone. I thank everyone who has been with me in my life," he wrote, asking to be cremated and his ashes scattered at his parents' graves. "I'm sorry to my family, to whom I only caused pain."

"Bye everyone," he signed off, without referring to the allegations against him.

A heavyweight figure in the ruling centre-left Democratic party, Park ran South Korea's sprawling capital for nearly a decade. He did not shy away from expressing his ambitions to replace incumbent President Moon Jae-in in 2022.

His death came a day after his former secretary filed a police complaint -- said to involve sexual harassment -- against him.

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According to a document purporting to be the statement of Park's victim, who worked as his personal secretary from 2015, he committed "sexual harassment and inappropriate gestures during work hours", including insisting she hug him in the bedroom adjoining his office.

After work, she said, he sent her "selfies of himself in his underwear and lewd comments" on a messenger app.

The police confirmed a complaint had been filed but declined to confirm the details.

Park's death means the investigation will automatically be closed.

South Korea has seen a widespread #MeToo movement in the last two years, sparked by a prosecutor who publically accused a superior of groping her at a funeral.

Park is the country's highest-profile politician to die by suicide since former president Roh Moo-hyun, who jumped off a cliff in 2009 after being questioned over corruption allegations involving family members.

A memorial altar was to be set up in front of the Seoul city hall for citizens to pay respects.

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