Mayor was subject of sexual harassment allegation . . .
A police team found the body of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, 64, on a mountainside within the capital city early Friday morning. The discovery followed several hours of a massive search operation involving 770 police officers, six drones, and nine sniffer dogs in an area where Park’s cellphone signal was last detected. The exact cause of his death has not been officially released, but police said foul play was not suspected. Park was reportedly the subject of a sexual harassment complaint filed by a former secretary on Wednesday, the day before he was reported missing.
A history of activism . . .
Park, elected for three terms since 2011 and the longest-serving mayor of the capital city, was a prominent civic activist and human rights lawyer. As a lawyer in the 1990s, he won Korea’s first sexual harassment case. As a civic activist, he launched a major anti-inequality NGO. Park was also a founding member of several organizations promoting democratic rights, community service, and fair trade. During his incumbency as Seoul’s mayor, Park supported the candlelit protests in central Seoul in 2016-2017 demanding the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal.
A national contender . . .
The abrupt death of Seoul’s ‘activist’ mayor plunged the country into a state of shock on Friday. Park was considered the second-most powerful official in South Korea and a likely hopeful for the country’s liberals in the 2022 presidential elections. He also led Seoul’s relatively successful COVID-19 response. The Democratic Party, of which he was a member, cancelled its party meeting slated for Friday.