Ex-lawmaker missing, presumed dead after bridge jump

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- Police said Monday they are searching for a former opposition lawmaker after hearing a report that he jumped off a bridge into the Han River in Seoul.

According to the police, they began the search after receiving a call from an acquaintance of Kim that he got a mobile message from Kim at about 5:30 a.m. saying he wants to die.

An empty vehicle and a pair of shoes belonging to Kim Jong-yull were found by police at a parking lot by the river and a nearby marina, officers said. A suicide note was later discovered at Kim's house in southern Seoul, they added.

"We received a call that Kim might have leaped from a bridge, but it has not yet been confirmed," a police officer said, adding that police dive teams will continue with their search around the area.

Kim, the former two-term lawmaker with the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), underwent a prosecution questioning on Sunday on suspicions that he took bribes worth 500 million won (US$449,000) from a local venture company, K-STEMCELL Co., Ltd, prosecution officials said.

K-STEMCELL officials alleged that they gave the money to Kim, asking him to pass them on to a high-ranking official of the financial regulator, surnamed Yoon, they added.

During the prosecution questioning, Kim confessed that he had kept the kickbacks for himself, according to prosecution sources.

Kim, a lawyer-turned-lawmaker, currently heads the North Chungcheong Province committee of the DP. The disgraced former lawmaker lost his seat in September 2009 after being convicted of receiving bribes from a local real-estate company.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>