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Missing Man Found - Kaiwaka

Missing Man Found ***
Northern Advocate
The discovery of a body has dashed hopes a Northland man was still alive.

Friends of the man are devastated, saying they held on to hope he was still out there somewhere.

An extensive police search was conducted after Hyung Jun Cho, 28, vanished on December 9 last year.

His car was found down a bank 1km north of Kaiwaka, but there was no evidence that anyone had been injured in the crash.

A farmer checking his stock found the body on the edge of a Department of Conservation reserve east of SH1 on Thursday morning and notified police.

The body was on the edge of dense bush on a steep hill about 1km inland from where Mr Cho's car was found, police said.



A friend of Mr Cho's, Byung Kuoog Kim, is devastated at the discovery of the body. Mr Kim, who knew Mr Cho through the close-knit Korean community, said he was holding on to hope Mr Cho might still be alive.

"If the body is his it's so unhappy to find out he's dead. At the same time we are happy to find it because it means he's not missing any more," Mr Kim said.

Mr Kim, president of the Korean Association in Whangarei, had known Mr Cho for about a year and was one of many people from the Korean community who searched for the missing man.

Mr Cho's father, who came to New Zealand when he went missing, has been told of the discovery of the body. Mr Kim said he planned to come to New Zealand from Korea, but was unsure when.

Detective Sergeant John Clayton said police were confident of the body's identity.

"I'm satisfied it's him," Mr Clayton said.

Mr Cho's wallet and the clothing he was wearing matched video-surveillance footage taken in Wellsford the night he went missing.

"I'm pleased nothing more sinister happened to him. It was a possibility initially," he said.

Extensive foot and air searches had involved Search and Rescue members, police with dogs, and a helicopter.

The area was missed in initial searches because of its remote location and a substantial river separated it from where the vehicle was found.

"It's just luck we found him," Mr Clayton said.

Mr Cho's father had said culturally they needed to find a body to have closure, Mr Clayton said.

"It was good to be able to give the body back to the family," he said.

Mr Cho's workplace, ETC timber mill in Ruakaka, was in shock following the discovery of the body. Manager Chi Dong Lim said about eight workers knew Mr Cho well.

"We hopefully expected he must be alive somewhere," Mr Lim said.

They too had spent a lot of time with police searching for Mr Cho's body, he said.

"It's sad. We are all very upset.

"There are many questions to be asked," he said.

Police were not treating the death as suspicious and it had been referred to the coroner.

A post mortem will carried out in Auckland on Tuesday.

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Police are searching for a 28-year-old Korean man missing after his car was found in a ditch near Kaiwaka, north of Auckland, early on Sunday morning.

Hyung Jun Cho left Auckland late on Saturday night for his home at Ruakaka in Northland but did not arrive.

Police were alerted when he failed to turn up to work on Monday.

Mr Cho's car was located down a bank on the western side of the road, 200 metres past a passing lane north of Kaiwaka late on Monday afternoon.

A team of 19 search and rescue staff plus one dog handler thoroughly searched the area around the crash site on Monday evening, police said.

Mr Cho's father arrived in the country and, along with Mr Cho's friends, were assisting police with their inquiries.

Today the search team were sweeping the area along the road sides between Kaiwaka and the Brynderwyn hills.

Police said they would like to hear from anyone who saw Mr Cho's vehicle, a white Mitsubishi Lancer, registration DME 693, driving between Wellsford and the Brynderwyn hills between the hours of 1.30am and 2.30am on Sunday.

Mr Cho was described as 170cm tall or medium build with short black hair.

- NZPA

 

 
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