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Ex-High Profile Official Found Dead in Apparent Suicide

Posted October. 12, 2008 23:21,   


Kim Yeong-cheol, former deputy secretary-general for Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, was found dead at his house yesterday in an apparent suicide. He was 61.

Kim had resigned from his post early this month over the allegation that he took bribes while serving as president of Korea Midland Power.

“Kim’s daughter called police around 8 a.m. after he was found to have hanged himself in the bathroom of his house in Ilwon-dong, southern Seoul,” police said.

With no evidence of a break-in and a note found in a set of drawers, police assumed Kim took his own life.

The note read, “Honey. I love you. I’m sorry. I’m leaving due to the mounting pain.”

Kim is believed to have committed suicide over the bribery allegation he faced, realizing he would come under investigation at the end of last month.

He was suspected of receiving tens of millions of won from energy equipment provider Kenertec in exchange for contracts while leading Korea Midland Power from 2002 to 2005.

Kim submitted his resignation three days after the allegation surfaced.

He could have potentially been the first high-profile official from the Lee administration to face criminal prosecution.

Prosecutors, however, said they never told Kim when he would be summoned or called him, saying, “We feel sorry over Kim’s death. We’re investigating this case.”

After passing the civil service exam in 1972, Kim began his career at the Agricultural Ministry. He later served as a department head at the Trade and Industry Ministry; secretary under the trade minister; secretary under the chief presidential secretary; deputy director of the Korean Intellectual Property Office; and CEO of Korea Midland Power.

He was appointed in March to his last position, serving as Prime Minister Han’s right-hand man.

The funeral will be held at Asan Medical Center in Seoul and police have no plans to conduct an autopsy.

niceshin@donga.com jameshuh@donga.com