Troubled businessman saved after suicide attempt
A businessman under investigation for a corruption scandal jumped into the Han River over the weekend in what appeared to be a suicide attempt, but was successfully brought to safety, the police said.
Yoon Euy-kook, the chairman of Koryo Credit Information, jumped into the Han River from the northern end of Banpo Bridge in Seoul at around 10:50 a.m. on Sunday. Participants taking part in a walking festival who were crossing the Jamsu Bridge, located on the lower deck of the Banpo Bridge, witnessed his fall and alerted police to the situation.
Yoon was quickly rescued and sent to the nearby Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital. According to police, the 65-year-old businessman left his jacket and shoes on the bridge; his mobile phone was found inside his jacket pocket.
Although he regained consciousness at the hospital, Yoon refused to disclose his identity as well as the reason for his apparent suicide attempt, police said.
The founder of the Credit Information Companies Association, Yoon is believed to have bribed Lim Young-rok, the former KB Financial Group chairman, to win a contract for an IT project led by KB to create an Internet registration system for Kookmin Bank. Yoon is suspected of bribing Lim to award the project to another company in which Yoon is the largest shareholder.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office’s special investigation unit raided Koryo Credit Information on Thursday and summoned Yoon for questioning. The police questioned Yoon’s wife and chauffeur and concluded that he appears to have attempted suicide due to pressure from the investigation.
Known for his close personal connections to high-ranking finance ministry officials, Yoon is accused of being involved in a number of irregularities within the industry.
The prosecution’s raid of Koryo Credit Information appears to be part of a bigger probe into other corruption allegations, as well as the bribery behind Kookmin Bank’s IT project.
“It is unfortunate that this incident took place during our investigation,” a prosecutor involved in the probe said. “It is fortunate, however, that he was rescued.”
The source also denied speculation that Yoon was treated harshly during questioning.
Earlier this year, two other high-profile businessmen succeeded in taking their own lives.
In January, Kim Jeong-deuk, the former Tongyang Group president, was found dead in his home in Gangneung, Gangwon, where he left behind a suicide note to his family.
Kim, one of the key executives in the financially troubled group, was questioned by the Financial Supervisory Service over allegations involving the conglomerate’s slush funds before he committed suicide.
Another businessman, Kim Kwang-jae, committed suicide in July by jumping off from the Jamjil Bridge. The former head of the Korea Rail Network Authority was being investigated by the prosecution over a series of bribes involving the state-run company; he had been questioned by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office before his suicide. Kim and other executives from the railroad authority were suspected of taking bribes from suppliers to win contracts.
According to Rep. Lee Sang-min, a member of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), 55 suspects and witnesses have killed themselves during prosecutorial investigations over the past five years. This year, 11 people have committed suicide as of October.
BY SER MYO-JA, PARK MIN-JE [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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