Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon is missing
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon has been reported missing, police said Thursday, after making comments to his family that possibly hinted at suicide.
Park did not come to work on Thursday, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
The mayor made comments to his family that sounded like his last words around four to five hours before leaving his home, his daughter told police at around 5:17 p.m., according to police.
Park's mobile phone was turned off when she tried calling him, police added.
Police and the Seoul city government said they had verified Park had left his official mayoral residence in Gahoe-dong of Jongno District, central Seoul, at around 10:44 a.m. that day, donning a black hat, dark jacket, black pants and gray shoes. He was also carrying a black backpack, city officials said.
The last signals to come from Park’s phone, which remains turned off, were detected near a Buddhist temple in Seongbuk-dong, northern Seoul.
Police have deployed two police brigades, drones and tracking dogs to search for Park, police said. The teams searched nearby mountains and forested areas in Seongbuk District, central Seoul.
Police denied rumors that surfaced saying Park’s body had been found.
Seoul city government spokesman Hwang In-shik said Park had not come to work on Thursday because of health issues, backtracking on an earlier statement from that morning that said Park canceled his schedule on Thursday due to an “unavoidable reason.”
Hwang added Park lives with his wife at the official mayoral residence, and that their daughter lives separately.
Park was originally slated to hold a meeting with Kim Sa-yeol, the head of the Presidential Committee for Balanced National Development, on the issue of urban-rural economic cooperation on Thursday afternoon.
The reasons behind Park’s abrupt disappearance are not known.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency convened an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon headed by the agency’s chief commissioner.
Park is Seoul’s first three-term mayor, having won re-elections by large margins in 2014 and 2018. A former civic activist and human rights lawyer, Park was first elected mayor of Korea’s capital city in a by-election in 2011, after former Mayor Oh Se-hoon resigned after a botched referendum.
BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [firstname.lastname@example.org]