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Hyundai tour boss 'jumps to death'

Chung Mong-hun, right, was a son of Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung.
Chung Mong-hun, right, was a son of Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung.

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CNN's Sohn Jie-Ae reports on the death of Hyundai executive.
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SEOUL, South Korea -- A top executive at South Korea's Hyundai Group, who is being probed in connection with a scandal over secretive payments to North Korea, has been found dead after jumping to his death.

Chung Mong-hun, chairman of Hyundai Asan Co., a company that focuses on business projects in the North, killed himself at about 6 a.m. Monday (2100 GMT Sunday) by leaping from his 12th-floor office in central Seoul, local police told The Associated Press.

A female secretary found Chung dead on the ground at the company's headquarters. The 54-year-old was the son of the late Chung Ju-yung, founder of what was once South Korea's largest business group.

State and private media reported Chung had left a four-page will for his wife and for Hyundai Asan, but without saying why he took his life, Reuters reports.

The suicide note sought forgiveness and urged joint economic ventures with North Korea.

The top South Korean executive was on trial for charges stemming from allegations his company helped former President Kim Dae-jung's government secretly pay North Korea $100 million to get Pyongyang to agree to a landmark summit.

Pyongyang hosted the three-day summit for leaders of both Koreas in June 2000.

Kim won a Nobel peace prize of his efforts of reconciliation with the North.

Chung was also being investigated for alleged doctoring of company books and siphoning billions of dollars into slush funds. He was forbidden to leave the country and had faced a number of court proceedings.

So far, eight former government officials and Hyundai workers have been indicted in the scandal. If convicted, some could face up to five years in prison.

Hyundai Asan is separate from Hyundai Motors, though they both used to be branches of the Hyundai Group.

After Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung died in 2001, the various branches of the company spun off and became separate entities.

Mong-hun was the younger brother of current Hyundai Motors chairman Chung Mong-koo.

Hyundai Asan handles Hyundai's North Korean projects as well as various tourism activities, including tours to the North's Mt. Kumgang resort.

-- CNN Correspondent Sohn Jie-ae contributed to this report.

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