Associate of S Korean president found dead

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2012, 12:00am

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A close associate of South Korean president Lee Myung-bak has been found dead in his serviced apartment in Hong Kong after apparently committing suicide.

Kim Byoung-il, 55, who stepped down as secretary general of a presidential advisory body on reunification policy last year, left a note in the flat saying: 'I had no other choice.'

Korean news reports said he had been summoned back to Seoul for a police investigation.

Hong Kong police and fire officers were called to Harbourfront Horizon in Hung Hom at about 1pm on Monday after a call from the dead man's 29-year-old daughter, Kim Bo-hyun, who had arrived in Hong Kong from Seoul that morning with his 57-year-old wife, Kim Sam-bae.

The daughter told officers that she feared for the safety of her father as no one answered the door, which was locked from inside. Firefighters broke down the door and found Kim Byoung-il hanging in a wardrobe in the flat's bedroom. He was declared dead by paramedics at the scene.

He wrote in the note: 'Sorry to my staff. I had no other choice.'

According to the English-language Korea JoongAng Daily, Kim left the country after being investigated by South Korean police on suspicion of releasing information on a sex scandal that allegedly involved a political figure.

It is understood that he arrived in Hong Kong on March 26.

The report said Korean police had obtained a warrant from court in April to arrest Kim and that he was in negotiations with South Korean police over the date of his return.

A senior Hong Kong police officer said initial investigation had found nothing suspicious over the death of Kim, and that the South Korean consulate had been informed. The consulate had no comment.

Kim Bo-hyun told police that she last contacted her father by telephone on Sunday telling him she was coming to Hong Kong to see him.

According to his blog, Kim passed the examination for higher public officials in the late 1970s and started his public career with the Prime Minister's Office after graduation from Yonsei University in Seoul, where he majored in political science.

His association with President Lee dated back to 1990 when he served as head of Seoul Metropolitan City's International Exchange Department. Lee then was mayor of Seoul.

He was later appointed as the National Unification Advisory Council secretary general, a vice-ministerial post. The council advises the South Korean president on the overall approach to unification policy.