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[Newsmaker] Investigator believed to be involved in election-meddling row found dead

An investigator who worked at the presidential office was found dead Sunday, police said, amid a prosecution probe into alleged attempts by Cheong Wa Dae officials to influence last year's local elections.

The official, who was dispatched to the civil affairs office from the prosecution, was found dead at an office in southern Seoul, according to police.


The investigator reportedly left a note to his family before the death. Police said they are investigating to determine the exact cause of the death.

The official is believed to have been involved in a controversy related to allegations that Cheong Wa Dae pushed police to investigate aides of an opposition party candidate in a bid to interfere in the June 13 local elections in 2018.

Baek Won-woo, former presidential secretary of civil affairs, is suspected of having referred to police tip-offs about alleged irregularities by aides of Kim Gi-hyeon, then mayor of Ulsan, ahead of the local elections.

The move sparked speculation that the provision of the information might have been aimed at making Kim, a mayoral candidate of the main opposition party, lose his second electoral bid.

Song Cheol-ho, a ruling party candidate known as having close ties with President Moon Jae-in, won the mayoral election in Ulsan.

The investigator was supposed to appear at the Seoul Central Prosecutors' Office for questioning at 6 p.m.

State prosecutors expressed condolences over his death and vowed to thoroughly investigate the tip-off row.

Prosecutors are looking into allegations that officials at the presidential civil affairs office, including the investigator, traveled to Ulsan to monitor the progress of the police probe.

There are allegations that inspectors belonging to an unofficial supervision team ran by Baek might be involved in conveying tip-offs to police.

Cheong Wa Dae has denied the related allegations.

The civil affairs office was then headed by Cho Kuk, the disgraced former justice minister who is under a prosecution probe over his family's alleged irregularities.

The prosecution is separately looking into allegations that Cho, former top presidential secretary for civil affairs, might be behind the sudden end of an inspection into Yoo Jae-soo, an arrested former vice mayor of Busan, over bribery charges. (Yonhap)