Funeral for Seoul mayor begins amid controversy
Seoul, Jul 13 (efe-epa).- A five-day mayoral funeral for Park Won-soon began in Seoul on Monday amid controversy surrounding the farewell for the politician and activist, who was found dead last week after allegations of sexual harassment emerged.
The body of Park, who was popular with citizens and the only mayor to be re-elected twice in Seoul, was found on a hill in the city on Friday, hours after he left his home and a note saying he was “sorry to everyone” and especially to his family for “causing only pain.”
His death came two days after a former female assistant is reported to have filed a sexual harassment complaint against him.
Family members, friends and political figures were at the ceremony at Seoul City Hall, with attendance limited to 100 people due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.
Despite the pouring rain, dozens of people waited outside for Park’s body to be brought by hearse from the Seoul National University Hospital and followed the ceremony projected on a giant screen outside the building. It was also livestreamed online.
The late mayor’s daughter, Park Da-in, who spoke at the funeral, said that at the time her father was elected, few knew the concept of citizenship like him.
A video reviewing Park’s career as a human rights lawyer and civic activist was also shown at the ceremony.
It included the case of university student Kwon In-sook, who in 1986 became the first South Korean woman to bring charges of sexual assault against the authorities, in this case the police. Park was part of the team of lawyers representing Kwon.
In another moment marked by conflicting emotions, those gathered outside the city hall urged a self-confessed follower of the mayor, who brought up the alleged harassment complaint, to leave.
Park’s funeral, which will be held over five days as is customary when a serving mayor in South Korea dies, has provoked mixed reactions.
On Friday, the leader of Park’s ruling Democratic Party, Lee Hae-chan, insulted a journalist for asking him about the alleged complaint against Park.
Some members of the party called for the period of mourning to be respected, while other politicians such as Ahn Cheol-soo, who leads the minority People’s Party, said he did not agree with the five-day funeral.
Meanwhile, an online petition against the five-day funeral filed with the South Korean presidential website, had garnered over 562,000 signatures on Monday. EFE-EPA