Busan principal found dead amid bribery investigation

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Busan principal found dead amid bribery investigation

A middle school principal who had been under police investigation for allegedly accepting bribes from a company bidding to install artificial turf on a school playground apparently poisoned himself to death Thursday.

A security guard surnamed Ahn, 72, found the man, surnamed Seong, 57, the principal of a middle school in Haeundae, Busan, dead at around 6:50 p.m., the police said.

“Seong did not leave the office as usual, so I went up to check if he was there,” police quoted Ahn as saying. “But his door was locked. When I opened it with a spare key, I found him lying on the floor.”

Investigators said Seong was immediately taken to a nearby hospital, where he was confirmed dead.

No suicide note was found, but a bottle of agricultural pesticide was found on a desk, police said.

Police said they did not discover any trace of an intruder, and hinted that Seong likely committed suicide by drinking the pesticide.

A probe into the exact cause of death is under way, said investigators.

The Busan Metropolitan Police Agency said it recently discovered Seong had received some 20 million won ($17,680) in return for selecting a company to lay down artificial turf on a school playground.

Police said the crime took place in July 2007, when Seong was in the top post at another middle school in Busan.

Investigators declined to say whether the money Seong allegedly received was given to him in cash. Police raided Seong’s residence and office around 1 p.m. yesterday to search for evidence to verify the charges.

“The principal might have killed himself due to the mental pressure he suffered as the investigation was about to begin,” said an officer who asked not to be identified.

By Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]
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