Koreana Hotel CEO’s wife leapt to death in Han River

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Koreana Hotel CEO’s wife leapt to death in Han River

Koreana Hotel CEO Bang Yong-hoon’s wife committed suicide by jumping off the Banghwa Bridge into the Han River, police tentatively concluded on Sunday.

According to local police in Goyang, Gyeonggi, a Banghwa Bridge management company employee found a Lexus car parked on the Banghwa Bridge without a driver inside and reported it to police at around 3:12 a.m. on Thursday. Police dispatched to the scene found a suicide note in the car.

“Seoul police had received a report from relatives of Bang’s wife who had called in after receiving text messages from her warning of a suicide attempt,” said a local police officer in Goyang. “So that’s how police first suspected it may have been Bang’s wife.”

The officer added, “We searched all night and day for the body, but a body usually sinks to the ground and takes about a day for it to float to the surface as it begins to decompose.”

A construction worker called police around 10:52 a.m. on Friday after finding a body floating in the Han River near the Gayang Bridge, some 2 to 3 kilometers (1.2 to 1.8 miles) from where the Lexus car was found. Initial autopsy reports identified the body as Bang’s wife, a 55-year-old woman surnamed Lee.

Lee’s family members refused to publicize the contents of her suicide note.

“There is no sign of homicide or murder,” said the officer. “The conclusion regarding the cause of death will be made in about a month after tests for drugs, poisons and other possible causes of death have been made.”

Acquaintances allegedly told authorities that Lee suffered from depression.

“We received testimonies from family members who said Lee suffered from depression and that she was on antidepressant medications,” the officer said.

Lee’s funeral was held on Saturday, where reportedly only a few family members and security guards were present.

While news of Lee’s alleged suicide went viral on Friday, authorities were keen not to associate the incident with Koreana Hotel.

“The case should be dealt with as an individual suicide attempt,” said a police officer on the condition of anonymity.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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