SEOUL (Reuters) – Seoul City Mayor Park Won-soon was found dead on Friday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, after police mounted a large search when his daughter reported him missing.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency found his body at Mt Bugak in northern Seoul, near where his phone signal was last detected during a late night search, Yonhap said.
Yonhap said the mayor’s daughter reported him missing at 5:17 p.m. (0817 GMT) and said his phone was off and that he had left a message “like a will”.
As longtime mayor of the city of nearly 10 million people, Park was one of the country’s most influential politicians and played a high-profile role in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
He was seen as a potential presidential hopeful for the liberals in the 2022 presidential elections.
Hundreds of South Korean police using drones and dogs had searched for the mayor on Thursday after his daughter reported him missing, officials said.
Park left the official residence at around 10:40 a.m., wearing a black hat and a backpack, having cancelled a policy meeting that was scheduled for Thursday morning, according to multiple local reports.
Park, who was mayor of Seoul since 2011, played a vocal role in the huge Candlelight Demonstrations that helped lead to the ousting of former President Park Geun-hye in 2017.
(Reporting by Cynthia Kim, Hyonhee Shin, Sangmi Cha, and Josh Smith; Editing by Alex Richardson, Nick Macfie and Frances Kerry)
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