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Anyone who has lost someone close to suicide (and I speak with experience here) will know the unbearably hollow sadness felt by those left behind.
How very difficult then it must be for the family of Lotte Group Vice Chairman Lee In-won, who was found dead today after what local media have described as a suicide, shortly before he was due to be questioned by prosecutors investigating corruption charges against the company.
That investigation, played out with almost sordid relish in an often rabid Korean media, has already taken a huge corporate toll – notably with the deferment of Hotel Lotte’s IPO, set to be the world’s biggest public float. But that cost is nothing compared to the loss of a life, of a father, husband, colleague, friend. Lotte sources tell me the company is in a state of deep shock today.
Korean media will dine out no doubt on what Lee’s death means in terms of the investigation. His family will have to put up with that relentless public glare while coping with immense personal grief.
It is often said that people do not commit suicide because they truly want to die but because they want to stop the pain. The newspapers won’t report it, but what pain Mr Lee must have felt. And what grief and emptiness he will leave behind. It is the saddest of stories. What price an investigation now?