Seoul (AsiaNews) - The South Korean authorities have confirmed this morning that the body of a man found on June 12 in the province of South Jeolla is that of Yoo Byung-eun, the owner of the Sewol ferry that sank April 16 off the south-western coast of the country. In the tragedy that shook the entire country, more than 300 people were killed, most of them were high school students headed for the island of Cheju a school trip.
According to investigators, both fingerprints and DNA samples taken from the body confirm the man's identity. He was wanted for a long time as the "silent" owner of the Chonghaejin Marine Co., the company that operated the ferry. Police had launched a nationwide manhunt for the tycoon involving thousands of policemen and members of the intelligence services.
Nothing is known of the causes of death: the body is in an advanced state of decomposition also because of the heavy rains that hit the province last month, and the autopsy is likely to be completely useless. Several Yoo family members are in jail, while one of his daughters - currently residing in France - is trying to avoid extradition. His eldest son, however, is still missing.
Woo Hyung-ho, Suncheon police chief, made it clear that
the genetic samples were compared with those of Yoo Byung-il, an elder brother
currently in prison for embezzlement of funds linked to the shipping company. The
deceased was very rich and had also founded a para-Christian
congregation The Salvation Sect, which had tried to protect him from arrest.
Woo has admitted police negligence in failing to "properly" investigate the corpse found in early June because it was believed to be that of a homeless man. Several Internet users have commented on the proceedings of indignation: "Why - asks a commentator on the conservative daily Chosun Ilbo - is the discovery of a lifeless body not even taken into consideration? What have we become?".