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Swimming Great Cho Dies of Heart Attack

Posted August. 05, 2009 07:33,   


Korean swimming great Cho Oh-ryun, dubbed the “Asian seal,” died of a heart attack yesterday. He was 57.

Upon hearing of her husband’s passing, Cho’s wife attempted suicide by taking poison and is in a hospital.

Police said Cho collapsed around 11:32 a.m. at his home in Haenam, South Jeolla Province. His wife had returned from her brother’s home when she discovered Cho’s body, and called 911.

When paramedics arrived, Cho showed signs of heart failure and was rushed to a hospital. He was pronounced dead at 12:45 p.m.

Afterwards, his wife is said to have returned home and tried suicide through an overdose of anti-depressants and sleeping pills.

The brother of Cho’s wife told police, “I called my sister in the back seat, but heard no answer. I assumed she took poison to kill herself, so I rushed her to an emergency room.

A hospital source said, “(She) slipped into a coma after receiving gastric irrigation. She is not in critical condition, however, given her pulse and respiration rates.”

In 2005, Cho returned to his hometown in Haenam and built a house made of yellow earth. He met his second wife there and married her in April this year.

Marking the 30th anniversary of his swimming in the Straits of Korea, Cho had planned another crossing around Aug. 15 next year. As preparation, he stayed on Jeju Island for training but returned home a week earlier.

The sudden death of his first wife in 2001 drove Cho to depression. He reportedly took large doses of anti-depressants with the Korean distilled liquor soju, or frequently drank heavily.