A will left by Seoul mayor Park Won-soon – reportedly embroiled in sexual harassment allegations and later found dead – said he feels “sorry to all people”.
The 64-year-old’s remains were located near a restaurant in wooded hills in northern Seoul, more than seven hours after the search was launched.
Police said there were no signs of foul play at the site but refused to disclose his cause of death.
Seoul’s city government revealed Mr Park’s will which they say was found at his residence.
The note, shown on Korean TV, said: “I feel sorry to all people. I thank everyone who has been with me in my life.
“I am always sorry to my family because I’ve given them only pains. Please cremate my body and scatter around the graves of my parents.”
Mr Park’s daughter called police on Thursday afternoon and said her father had given her “a will-like” verbal message in the morning before leaving home.
Police said they mobilised about 600 police and fire officers, drones and tracking dogs to search for Mr Park in the hills, where his mobile phone signal was last detected.
He was a longtime civic activist and human rights lawyer and elected Seoul mayor in 2011, later becoming the city’s first mayor to be voted to a third term in June 2018.
A member of President Moon Jae-in’s liberal Democratic Party, he had been considered a potential presidential candidate in 2022 elections.