|Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon|
By Kim Bo-eun
Police are searching for Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon after a missing person report was filed for him Thursday. The search was ongoing as of 10:30 p.m.
According to police, Park's daughter reported him missing at 5:17 p.m., telling them that he had left what appeared to be his "last words" in a message. He had apparently left home four to five hours earlier, but couldn't be reached as his mobile phone had been deactivated.
Park's phone signal was last detected at Gilsang Temple in northeastern Seoul, according to police, who have mobilized officers, drones and police dogs for the search.
Seoul Metropolitan Government convened an emergency meeting but made no official comment on the mayor's disappearance.
The local government said earlier in the day Park did not come to work as he was feeling ill. It said at around 10:40 a.m., that Park had canceled his schedule for the day based on "inevitable circumstances."
The mayor had originally been due to hold a meeting at 4:40 p.m. to discuss the Seoul government's role in regional development, with a presidential office-affiliated committee at his office.
Police said Park left home clad in dark clothing, a black hat and carrying a black backpack.
Reports have surfaced that a complaint had been filed against Park with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency a day earlier over allegations of sexual harassment.
|According to police, Park's daughter reported him missing at 5:17 p.m., telling them that he had left what appeared to be his "last words" in a message. Yonhap|
|The local government said earlier in the day Park did not come to work as he was feeling ill. It said at around 10:40 a.m., that Park had canceled his schedule for the day based on 'inevitable circumstances.' Yonhap|
According to the reports, a former secretary of Park filed thecomplaint, alleging the mayor had harassed her continually since she began working for him in 2017.
The reports said she told police Park had sent personal photos to her via a mobile messenger on multiple occasions and that there were allegedly more victims of harassment.
It remains unclear if his disappearance is related to this.
Park, a former human rights lawyer and civic activist, was elected Seoul Mayor in 2011 and had been serving his third term since July 2018.
During this term, Park was seeking to transform the capital into a "smart city" in preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution as he pledged on the campaign trail.
To this end, he designated six strategic initiatives that the metropolitan government has focused on, including the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. Seoul's knowhow in creating a smart city had gained recognition as the capital has sat atop the global e-government rankings since 2003.
In addition, Park promised to create a 1.2 trillion won ($1.1 million) venture capital fund for startups and nurture 5,000 of them, while making efforts for balanced regional development in the metropolitan area by taking advantage of excess earnings clawed back from apartment reconstruction, and expanding the safety net for owner-operators.
Park also focused on inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation by suggesting holding talks with North Korea on disease control and prevention amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As a member of the ruling Democratic Party, Park, 64, had been regarded a presidential hopeful in the 2022 election.