Seoul Debates How To View Mayor's Death As Sexual Harassment Allegations Emerge

Seoul City Mayor Park Won-soon a major driving force behind the proposed joint North and South Korean bid for the 2032 Olympic Games has been found dead

Park Won-soon: Mayor of Seoul reported missing with search under way

Seoul's city government revealed Mr Park's will which they say was found at his residence. According to the Agency Younhap, the police organized a massive search operation, which was attended by 150 people, drone and dogs. It said that the family was urging the people to let him go.

His daughter called police after he couldn't reach her father on the phone, the Seoul police officer said, requesting anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media about the matter.

Professor Yi Han Sang at Korea University criticized the Seoul city government for planning to establish a public mourning area near its building and use official funds for Park's funeral, which is set for next week.

The message however, did not mention the sexual harassment allegations raised against Park.

Park Won-soon had been Seoul City Mayor since 2011
Park Won-soon had been Seoul City Mayor since 2011

The petitioner said that Park's funeral should be held in a low-key manner in the format of a family funeral, noting that the investigation into his alleged sexual harassment became impossible due to his death.

MBC television carried a similar report. Early on Friday, police confirmed that a sexual harrassment complaint had been filed against Park by a former secretary.

Park had left his home in a taxi Thursday morning and got off at a park several minutes later, said Choi Ik-su, a senior defective at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, citing closed-circuit footage. His body was found after an extensive search near the last location broadcast by his cellphone.

The daughter of military dictator Park Chung Hee, Mrs Park was the first woman to be elected president of South Korea in 2012.

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Many residents of Seoul, a city of almost 10 million people, expressed shock over the sudden death of the former activist, women's rights advocate and lawyer who many saw as a potential presidential candidate. The three-term mayor of the country's capital was seen as a potential presidential hopeful for the liberals in the 2022 presidential elections.

"Mayor Park, you were an excellent politician", a post on Daum, the nation's second-largest portal site read.

In April, Oh Keo-don resigned as Busan mayor over allegations that he sexually exploited a female employee. He also campaigned for the rights of so-called comfort women, Korean sex slaves who were lured or forced to work in brothels for the Japanese army during World War II.

The Seoul High Court sentenced Park to 15 years in prison for bribery and an additional five years for abuse of power and other charges on Friday.

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Formerly a prominent human rights activist and lawyer, park had been the mayor of Seoul since 2011, pursuing a slew of policies promoting gender equality.

Seoul, a city with 10 million people, has been a new epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea since easing its rigid social distancing rules in early May.

Authorities are struggling to trace contacts amid surges in cases linked to nightclubs, church services, a huge e-commerce warehouse and door-to-door sellers in Seoul.

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