Police May Have Found Corpse of Fugitive Billionaire Wanted in Sewol Disaster


The exhaustive two-month manhunt to capture billionaire Yoo Byung-eun, the fugitive tycoon wanted in connection with the Sewol ferry disaster, may be coming to a close. South Korean police believe that a corpse they discovered in a plum field in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, on June 12 may be that of Yoo, after initial tests shows that DNA from the remains resembled the DNA of his older brother, several media outlets reported today.

“We need to look more closely into this, but the body is believed to be Yoo’s,” a police official was quoted as saying by Yonhap.

The corpse, clothed in a winter jacket and hat, had already heavily decomposed when found, news reports said.

Yoo, a mysterious figure known as a cult leader, a business tycoon and even a famous nature photographer, has been sought by authorities for embezzlement, negligence and tax evasion in charges related to the patriarch’s alleged ties to Chonghaeijin Marine Co., the shipping company that operated the Sewol and is run by his family. Authorities believe the company’s failure to meet regulatory standards are to blame for the ferry’s sinking April 16, killing more than 300 people. Channel News Asia reported that Yoo has no direct stake in Chonghaejin, but his children and close aides control it through a complex web of holding companies.

Just last month, police conducted large-scale raids of Anseong City’s Evangelical Baptist Church of Korea in search of Yoo, who is also the head of the church. Police have already arrested four churchgoers on suspicion of assisting in Yoo’s escape and two members for obstructing the raid.

Yoo’s older brother and wife have been arrested, while his eldest son, Yoo Dae-kyun, remains missing and his daughter, Yoo Somena, is challenging an extradition bid from Paris, France.

Photo via Huffington Post: Composite images released by the Korean National Police Agency of what Yoo Byung-eun would look like in disguises.