Suicide suspected in banker’s death

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Suicide suspected in banker’s death

An employee of Korea’s largest bank was found dead Monday on the southwestern side of the Han River, and local police suspect suicide due to work-related stress.

The body of the 47-year-old surnamed Roh, who was the head of the information technology development team at Kookmin Bank, was found on the south side of the Seogang Bridge in western Seoul. A police investigator said the autopsy didn’t reveal any external injuries and that “it is possible that he threw himself into the river.”

Roh’s family members told police that he had been under increased stress over the past four months as he oversaw the building of the integrated computer network system for the bank. Since 2007, Kookmin Bank has poured in about 600 billion won ($520 million) to set up a new integrated network. It shut down all electronic transactions, including online banking, during the Lunar New Year weekend and opened the new system yesterday.

Police said Roh worked through the holiday weekend, sleeping at the office with his colleagues. The information led investigators to a tentative conclusion that Roh killed himself because of work-related stress.

“We found no note and he had never been treated for depression,” one investigator said. “We found no other reason [than stress from work] for him to kill himself.”

But Roh’s co-workers didn’t think stress was the cause. One said, “The network project went so well, I can’t understand why he would have killed himself the day before the new system opened.”

Another colleague said Roh was “a responsible man with great work ethic” and added, “He’s not the type of person who would commit suicide because of a heavy workload.”

Some said Roh’s apparent suicide may relate to an investigation by the Financial Supervisory Service. The watchdog agency carried out comprehensive investigations on Kookmin Bank from December to Feb. 10. Roh’s network project was subject to questioning by dozens of inspectors.

“We can’t say what we’ve found so far, but there will be further legal review,” one official at the agency said.


By Jeong Seon-eon [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]

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