Funeral for Seoul Mayor Held Amid Probe07/13 06:36
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Mourners wept and deeply bowed before the coffin
of Seoul's mayor during his funeral Monday, while a lawyer came forward with
details about sexual harassment allegations against the late politician.
The allegations have split many in South Korea over how to remember Park
Won-soon, who was found dead Friday in a wooded area in northern Seoul. Park, a
liberal who built his career as a reform-minded politician and champion of
women's rights, had been considered a potential candidate for president in 2022.
Police said there was no sign of foul play but refused to disclose the exact
cause of his death. Seoul officials have said Park left a note saying "I feel
sorry to everyone" and asking that his body be cremated.
On Monday, lawyer Kim Jae-ryon told reporters that she gave legal counsel to
one of Park's former secretaries before a complaint was lodged with police over
alleged sexual harassment. Kim, who represents the ex-secretary, said the
complaint was filed on July 8, the day before Park's daughter called police to
report her father missing, prompting a massive police search for him.
Kim said the ex-secretary said that Park sent her messages and photos that
involved "sexual harassment" and that she showed those to some of her friends,
colleagues and a local journalist. The woman said Park subjected her to
unwanted "physical contact," the lawyer said.
Kim's news conference was the first of its kind since the allegations
against Park were reported by local media when the police began their search
for the mayor.
Police and Seoul's city government didn't immediately have official
responses to the lawyer's claims and refused multiple attempts to confirm
details in the complaint. Police have previously confirmed that a complaint
against Park was filed but have not given any details.
Kim's office also refused The Associated Press' request to contact Kim.
During the news conference, an activist read what she called a message by
the former secretary.
"I was foolish. I have deep regrets. Yes, I should have screamed when it
first happened, cried out and reported it," the message said.
She was quoted as saying in the message that she found Park's death "deeply
disappointing" and hard to believe
Earlier Monday, the Seoul city government held a funeral for Park with about
100 participants, a relatively small size given his prominence. Authorities
cited coronavirus concerns for limiting participants, but some observers say
opposition to a big, outdoor funeral was likely the reason.
The mayor's daughter, Park Da-in, wept at the funeral and said she felt both
sorry and grateful to city officials who she said must have been more shocked
than anyone by her father's death. "Thanks to them, our family is overcoming
the difficult times little by little," she said.
A live broadcast online drew a mixture of condolence messages and insults.
Sympathy messages included ones that read "Please, rest in peace," "I'm
heartbroken" and "You're the best mayor." But there were also anti-Park
messages such as "Shame on you," "Hypocrite" and "What are you doing with
The funeral ended after Park's family and others deeply bowed and laid white
flowers before a floral coffin topped with his framed funeral photo. When the
coffin was moved out of the building for a cremation and burial later Monday,
some of his supporters cried and shouted "Mr. Mayor! Mr. Mayor" and "We love