Seoul Court Dismisses Injunction Against Hosting Mayor’s Funeral

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Seoul’s administrative court dismissed an injunction that sought to stop the South Korean capital from holding a public funeral for its mayor amid political divisions over the ceremony to officially mourn his death.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon was found dead from an apparent suicide on Friday. The city government decided to host an unusually long, five-day funeral for Park, but former conservative member of parliament Kang Yong-suk claimed there was a lack of legal foundation for such a memorial and obtained a preliminary injunction against it.

Park was viewed as a potential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party for the 2022 presidential election, but his death was soon politicized because of an alleged sexual harassment complaint filed against him on Wednesday.

Park’s demise is one of the highest-profile deaths among South Korean politicians since former President Roh Moo-hyun committed suicide in 2009 while police were investigating him and his family for suspected graft. The mayor of Seoul since 2011, Park had been a civil rights lawyer before entering politics, working on a landmark sexual harassment case and seeking justice for those who suffered under Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.

Critics questioned whether Park deserved a public funeral. A spokesman for the opposition United Future Party said on Friday it would be an act of “official violence” against the alleged victim.

More than 500,000 South Koreans signed a petition calling on the presidential Blue House to cancel the city’s decision, arguing it should be a quiet family affair. The Blue House is obliged to respond to petitions when the number of petitioners surpasses 200,000.

The chief spokesman of the ruling party -- which Park was part of -- said on the national broadcaster KBS on Sunday that it was sad to see Park’s death being so politicized.

Park was scheduled to be cremated on Monday. The Seoul city government said on Sunday it would hold the farewell ceremony online due to Covid-19.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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