S. Korean official falls to death in China

S. Korean official falls to death in China
Rescue workers search at the site of a traffic accident, where a bus fell off a bridge, in Ji'an, Jilin province, China, July 1, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

BEIJING - An official dispatched from Seoul to deal with the aftermath of a bus crash in China that killed 10 South Koreans was found dead in a suspected suicide early Sunday after falling from a hotel, Chinese state media reported.

The official, identified as Choi Doo-Yeong, was confirmed dead after police were notified that a man had fallen from a four-storey hotel in the northeastern Chinese city of Jian, the city's propaganda department said on its social media account.

The reason for the fall was under investigation, it said.

But China's official Xinhua news agency reported Guo Yuanqiang, vice head of the Jian police, as saying the probe had ruled out foul play, surmising that Choi had killed himself.

Choi was president of the state-run Local Government Officials' Development Institute and had gone to China after a bus carrying more than two dozen South Korean civil servants went off a bridge in Jian on Wednesday.

The crash also killed their Chinese driver.

Xinhua said that Choi had accompanied Chung Chae-Gun, vice minister at South Korea's Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, to deal with the aftermath of the incident.

The crash victims had been travelling on a training programme organised by the institute, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.

"It has not been confirmed whether Choi jumped from the hotel to his death or lost his footing and fell," Yonhap reported earlier, quoting an official at the South Korean ministry.

Another government official quoted by Yonhap said that Choi "was known to have felt a heavy responsibility for the tragic accident as the head of the institute".

The institute is affiliated with the government, Yonhap added.

Jian sits across the Yalu River from North Korea in Jilin province and is a popular destination for South Koreans visiting China as it hosts historical sites related to an ancient kingdom that occupied what is now the Korean peninsula and northeast China.

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