Embattled former President Roh Moo-hyun — a reformist shamed by a corruption scandal that tarnished his image as a “clean” politician — jumped to his death while hiking in the mountains behind his rural home in southern South Korea, his lawyer said. He was 62.
Roh was hiking in the village of Bongha when he threw himself off a steep cliff around 6:40 am on Saturday (2340 GMT Friday), lawyer Moon Jae-in told reporters in the city of Busan. In a suicide note left for his family, Roh said life was “difficult” and apologized for making “too many people suffer,” a TV report said.
He was rushed to a hospital, where he was declared dead from a head injury around, Busan National University Hospital said.
The apparent suicide — the first by a modern South Korean leader — shocked the nation. South Koreans huddled around TV screens at Seoul's main train station and elsewhere watching broadcasts of the news.
Roh, a self-taught former human rights lawyer who lifted himself out of poverty to reach the nation's highest office, prided himself on his clean record in a country with a long history of corruption. He served as president from 2003 to 2008.