A prominent South Korean lawmaker who was being probed over a bribery scandal has committed suicide, police said on 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$44,185) from a powerful political blogger linked to many top politicians.
The blogger, widely known by the online nickname Druking, is on trial for using illegal hacking programs to sway public opinion on Naver, the country’s top online portal.
Druking is accused of artificially raising 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 and their parties in a bid to win personal favors.
In a suicide note left in a Seoul apartment, Roh said he had received money from the blogger, but denied offering any favor in return, the Yonhap news agency said.
He had been expected to be questioned soon by prosecutors.
Roh was found dead at the gate of the same apartment building and it appeared that he had jumped to his death, police said.
Roh was a prominent labor 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 businesspersons — embroiled in humiliating scandals make frequent headlines.
Former South Korean 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.
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