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South Korea

Prominent South Korean politician commits suicide

Yonhap reports that Roh Hoe-chan leapt to his death from a building after leaving a suicide note saying he felt sorry to his family

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 July, 2018, 10:45am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 July, 2018, 8:05pm

A prominent South Korean lawmaker who was being probed over a bribery scandal has committed suicide, police said Monday.

Roh Hoe-chan, a three-term lawmaker of the left-leaning Justice Party had been under investigation for allegedly receiving 50 million won (US$44,300) from a powerful political blogger linked to many top politicians.

The blogger, widely known by his online nickname “Druking”, is currently on trial for using illegal hacking programmes to sway public opinion on Naver, the South’s top online portal.

“Druking” is accused of artificially increasing the number of positive responses – the equivalent of Facebook’s “Like” function – to tens of thousands of online comments on Naver that attacked or supported politicians or political parties in a bid to win personal favours.

In a suicide note left in a Seoul flat, Roh admitted he had received money from the blogger, but denied he had offered any favour in return, the Yonhap news agency said.

He had been expected to be summoned soon by prosecutors for questioning.

Police said Roh was found dead at the gate of the same block of flats and that it appeared he had jumped to his death.

Roh was a prominent labour rights activist before becoming a lawmaker in 2004. The South’s presidential Blue House offered condolences over the “heartbreaking event”.

“I express my deepest condolences over his death from the depths of my heart,” Huh Ik-bum, a senior prosecutor leading the probe over the scandal, told reporters.

“I personally admired him as a politician,” he said.

South Korea has one of the world’s highest suicide rates, and suicides of public figures – from politicians to businessmen – embroiled in humiliating scandals make frequent headlines.

Late former president Roh Moo-hyun, who served from 2003 to 2008, shocked the nation in 2009 when he jumped off a cliff while being investigated over a corruption scandal.