SEOUL, South Korea – The former chairman of South Korea's oldest conglomerate, the Doosan Group, apparently hanged himself, police said Wednesday, following a string of suicides by other high-profile South Koreans.
A maid found Park Yong-oh hanged with a necktie at his home, an officer at Seoul's Seongbuk police station said. A suicide note was also found, he said, declining to give his name because he was not authorized to speak on the record.
"We believe he committed suicide," he said. "Nothing suspicious was found that makes us suspect murder."
The officer refused to disclose the suicide note's contents. The Yonhap news agency said Park wrote in the seven-page note about financial difficulties involving a new construction firm he headed.
The construction firm has no relations with Doosan. Repeated calls to the construction company went unanswered.
South Korea, a nation of 49 million people, has the highest rate of suicide among nations belonging to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, a grouping of 30 industrialized nations.
Former President Roh Moo-hyun jumped off a cliff to his death in May. At the time, he and his family were being investigated on suspicion of taking $6 million from a businessman while Roh was president.
Last year, top South Korean actress Choi Jin-sil committed suicide, weeks after a fellow actor killed himself.
Park, 72, had been chief executive of the Doosan Group until a family feud prompted his ouster in 2005. His younger brother, Park Yong-sung, took over as chairman.
In 2006, they and two other brothers were convicted of embezzling company funds and received suspended prison terms. Park Yong-sung later received a presidential amnesty, though the other brothers did not, according to the Justice Ministry.
The Doosan Group is one of South Korea's largest conglomerates, with 15 subsidiaries with operations including construction, food and clothing. Doosan also builds nuclear power plants.
Bobcat Co., a West Fargo, North Dakota-based maker of small loaders and light construction equipment, is owned by Doosan Infracore International, a subsidiary of Doosan Group company Doosan Infracore.
Doosan had no comment on Park's presumed suicide.