South Korea ferry disaster: Body of fugitive billionaire ferry boss found in a field

Police confirm body found in June is that of Yoo Byung-eun who disappeared after more than 300 died in cruise disaster

South Korean police have confirmed they have found the body of the fugitive billionaire businessman who owned the ferry that killed more than 300 people in April.

Authorities found the body of 23-year-old Yoo Byung-eun in an agricultural field in the southern South Korean city of Suncheon in June.

The businessman and his son went missing shortly after the disaster happened, sparking a media frenzy in South Korea and a mass manhunt, with authorities offering a $50,000 (£29,000) reward for information about his whereabouts at the time.

Mr Yoo’s body was found wearing a pair of expensive shoes and a costly Italian-made jacket, with three empty bottles of local Korean alcohol, a bag and a magnifying glass around him.

Police officer Wu Hyung-ho said the body of Mr Yoo was already decayed beyond recognition, but the results of DNA and fingerprint tests confirmed it was that of the missing billionaire, and more thorough investigation would need to be carried out in order to find out how and when he died.

 

The disaster led to a period of national mourning across South Korea, with angry relatives of those who had died protesting against the handling of the rescue mission by authorities. Of the 488 people on board, over 300 died when the ferry sank.

Mr Yoo’s alleged corruption was thought to have contributed to the sinking of the Sewol ferry, and he was wanted on allegations of tax evasion, embezzlement and professional negligence.

The tycoon was thought to still be in control of the ferry’s operator, Chonghaejin, despite having been the boss of the company’s predecessor that went bankrupt in the late 1990s. Mr Yoo was thought to be in control of Chonghaejin through a complex web of holding companies in which his children and close associates are large shareholders.

His son, Yoo Dae-Kyun, is still on the run with a $100,000 (£59,000) government reward offered for information of his whereabouts, while many of the billionaire’s family have been arrested, including his wife Kwon Yoon-ja, and his daughter who is currently fighting an extradition bid from France.

A total of 294 dead bodies have now been retrieved from the sunken ferry, though 10 people are still missing. Last month a new report showed that the ferry had been licensed on falsified documents, and was found to be carrying double its cargo load.

Mr Yoo was a member of a controversial church near Seoul that has been called a cult and linked to a 1987 mass suicide. The businessman was originally thought to be holed up in the church’s compound, but he was not found when police searched the area in May. Members of the church, who were said to have called Mr Yoo “Moses,” tried to hold police off from searching the compound at the time, with hundreds of followers reportedly threatening to die as martyrs.

Additional reporting from PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game