Hundreds of South Korean police using drones and dogs were searching for the longtime mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, on Thursday after his daughter reported him missing, officials said.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said officers were searching for Park around Sungbuk-dong, a district in northern Seoul where his phone signal was last detected.
His daughter reported him missing at 5:17 p.m. (0817 GMT) and said his phone was off and that he had left a message “like a will”, according to Yonhap news agency.
Park left the official residence at around 10:40 a.m., wearing a black hat and a backpack, having cancelled a policy meeting that was scheduled for Thursday morning, according to multiple local reports.
Police said they planned to continue the search overnight and to dispatch a helicopter if Park is not located by Friday morning.
Park, who has been the mayor of Seoul since 2011, played a vocal role in the huge Candlelight Demonstrations that helped lead to the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye in 2017.
As mayor of a city of nearly 10 million people, Park is one of the most influential politicians in the country and has played a high-profile role in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
He is seen as a potential presidential hopeful for the liberals in the 2022 presidential elections.