Korean official falls to death in China

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 early today after falling from a hotel, a local government said.

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.

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 killed 10 South Koreans and their Chinese driver, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency and South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

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, Yonhap said.

“It has not been confirmed whether Choi jumped from the hotel to his death or lost his footing and fell,” said an official at the South Korean ministry, according to Yonhap.

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.