Seoul mayor reported missing with search operations under way.

The mayor of South Korean capital Seoul has been reported missing and search operations are under way, according to police.

Officers are looking for Mayor Park Won-soon in Sungbuk neighbourhood, where his mobile phone signal was last detected.

Police said his phone is turned off.

His daughter called police earlier on Thursday and said her father has been unaccounted for.

Yonhap news agency reported Mr Park’s daughter told police her father left “a will-like” message before leaving their home earlier on Thursday.

It said officers, drones and police dogs have been mobilised in the search.

Kim Ji-hyeong, an official from the Seoul Metropolitan Government, confirmed Park did not show up for work on Thursday and cancelled all his schedules, including a meeting with a presidential official at his Seoul City Hall office.

A long-time civic activist and human rights lawyer, Mr Park was elected Seoul mayor in 2011 and voted into his third and last term in June last year.

A member of president Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party, Mr Park has been considered a potential presidential hopeful in the 2022 elections.

Mr Park has mostly maintained his activist colours as mayor, criticising what he described as the country’s growing social and economic inequalities and allegedly corrupt ties between large businesses and politicians.

During the earlier part of his terms, Mr Park established himself as a fierce opponent of former conservative president Park Geun-hye and openly supported the millions of people who flooded the city streets in late 2016 and 2017, calling for her departure over a corruption scandal.

She was formally removed from office in March 2017 and is currently serving a decades-long prison term on bribery and other charges.

Seoul, a city with 10 million people, has been a new epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea since the Asian country eased its rigid social distancing rules in early May. – AP

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