Park Won-soon was reported missing by his daughter on Thursday night, according to a police official who was aware of the case. Nearly 600 police officers and firefighters, along with three rescue dogs, were mobilized to search for the mayor.
Park’s body was found in the mountains of the city seven hours after the operation, Seoul police confirmed in a text message Friday morning to reporters.
The search team had previously explored Waryong Park, where police said he was recorded on CCTV footage at 10:53 on Thursday. His last cellphone signal was detected in the Seoul Seongbuk-gu neighborhood, very close to his official residence in Jongno-gu, said a police official who was aware of the case.
The 64-year-old civil activist, who has been mayor of Seoul since 2011, is seen as hope for liberals in the 2022 presidential election.
When Park was elected in a major victory against the ruling party almost a decade ago – without political ties or experience – it sparked public madness. His unexpected rise to the second most powerful position in the country was seen as a sign that South Korea was bored with traditional politics.
The former human rights lawyer, who ran independently but formed alliances with opposition parties, fought for urban welfare projects and became a symbol of reform.
He was re-elected mayor in 2014 and returned in 2018.
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