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Body of fugitive ferry owner found, search continues for son

South Korean police confirm that body found last month belonged to fugitive owner of the ill-fated Sewol ferry which sank in April resulting in around 300 deaths. 

SEOUL: After nearly three months of hunting down the fugitive owner of the sunken Sewol ferry, South Korean police say they've finally found his body. Yoo Byung Eun's body was actually found last month in the southern part of the country, but tests needed to be done in order for it to be identified. Yoo had a $US490,000 bounty for his arrest on charges of embezzlement, negligence and tax evasion.

On June 12, a body of a man was discovered in a farm near the small city of Suncheon - about 300 kilometres south of Seoul. “It was lying down, looking up at the sky,” said Park Yoon Seok, the farmer who discovered the body. “His shoes were laid at the end of his feet, as if they were on a shelf.” Police said Yoo was wearing a jacket and bottles of alcohol were also found at the scene.

Authorities said 80 per cent of the body had decayed by the time it was found, so visual identification was not possible. But DNA and fingerprint tests have since revealed that the body was that of the 73-year-old billionaire.

More tests are being done. “We want to know for sure if there was any foul play,” said Woo Hyung Ho, chief of police agency in Suncheon. “And we will also know – to some extent – how he died exactly.”

The announcement of the find comes less than 24 hours after prosecutors apologised for failing to capture Yoo, who went missing shortly after the Sewol sank, killing more than 300 people. A court on Monday also issued a fresh arrest warrant for Yoo, as an earlier warrant was set to expire. This, as police had wanted to question him on possible criminal negligence charges related to the sinking of the Sewol.

While Yoo’s body may now have been found, the manhunt continues for his eldest son, Yoo Dae Kyun. South Koreans say they hope he will be found alive as the country continues to search for answers as to why the ferry sank on April 16. 

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