© Provided by the Associated Press
In this image from the Seoul Metropolitan Government, a portrait of the late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon is seen at a city hospital on Friday, July 10, 2020. (Seoul Metropolitan Government via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – The sudden death of the mayor of Seoul, apparently implicated in a sexual harassment complaint, has caused signs of public condolence even as it has cast doubt on a man who forged his career as a politician inclined to reforms and as a self-declared feminist.

Park Won-soon was found dead on a wooded hill in northern Seoul on Friday morning, about seven hours after his daughter reported to police that she had left him a « will-like » voice message and had left his house. Authorities began a massive search for the 64-year-old man, until rescue dogs found his body.

Police said there is no indication of a crime at the scene, but they declined to disclose the cause of death. On Friday morning, Seoul authorities said that, at the request of his family, they would release what they described as « Park’s will that was found at his residence.

« I’m sorry for everyone. I thank all those who have been with me, ”said the letter shown on television. He asked that his remains be cremated and scattered on the graves of his parents.

Park was a renowned figure in South Korean politics. A former human rights lawyer, he headed two of the country’s most influential civil groups and has been mayor of the 10-million-population capital since 2011. He was widely regarded as the leading liberal candidate for president once his ally’s term ended. and current President Moon Jae-in in 2022.

His death surprised many.

His supporters lamented and shouted slogans like « We love you » and « Sorry » as his body arrived at a Seoul hospital. His name was the most popular search word on several of the major internet sites, and social media was filled with messages of condolences. The presenter of a morning show broke down in tears on Friday morning and could not continue talking about Park.

« I really respected him … I hope he can fulfill all his dreams in heaven, » said Kim Young-hyun, a 48-year-old businessman near the Seoul city hall.