The Mayor of Seoul, capital of South Korea, Park Won-soon has been found dead barely hours after he was reported missing by his daughter on Thursday.
His daughter reportedly told police he had left a message before leaving the house, leading her to raise the alarm.
Police officer Lee Byeong-seok told reporters that Park was seen by a security camera at 10:53 near the entrance to the wooded area where he phone signal was last detected.
About 600 police and fire officers using drones and dogs searched the area for hours on Thursday.
Meanwhile, crowds gathered outside the Seoul National University hospital late on Thursday amid unconfirmed reports that Mr. Park had been found and taken there.
As member of President Moon Jae-in’s liberal Democratic Party, late 64-year old Park was reportedly under consideration as a potential presidential hopeful in the 2022 elections.
Unconfirmed reports on Thursday suggested Mr. Park was facing a sexual harassment claim filed by a female employee in the hours before he went missing, but police did not confirm the reports.
With his re-election last year, Mr. Park became the first mayor of the city to begin a third term. He had carried his history as a civic activist and human rights lawyer into his tenure as mayor, and was an outspoken critic of social inequality and corruption in South Korea.
As a lawyer, he was credited with securing the country’s first sexual harassment conviction.
He clashed with the former president, Park Geun-hye, openly supporting millions of people who protested against her in 2017 and 2017, before she was eventually charged and imprisoned, on bribery and other charges.