It was October 2011 when Park Won-soon became Mayor of Seoul, a city of 10 million people, at the age of 55.
When he first entered as an independent candidate, his approval rating stood at only five percent.
But he was elected mayor when one of the main candidates Ahn Cheol-soo withdrew from the election and supported Park.
"I, the candidate of the united opposition party announce the victory of the Seoul citizens."
When Park was elected in a landslide victory against the ruling party with no political ties or experience it sparked a public frenzy that claimed South Korea was tired of traditional politics.
Born in 1956 in Gyeongsangnam-do Province, Park started his career as a human rights attorney.
As a lawyer, he won several major cases, including the first sexual harassment conviction in South Korean history.
Then he had built a career as a civic activist who fought for democracy and human rights under the country’s past military dictatorship.
He founded the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, the country’s most influential civil rights group in 1994 and developed Korea's civic movement as Secretary-General for several years.
Reelected as mayor in 2014 and for a third time in 2018, he became the city's longest ever serving mayor, holding the post for almost 10 years.
In the pandemic crises of MERS in 2015 and COVID-19 today, he was acknowledged for transparency and taking swift steps to contain the spread.
Serving the capital for three straight terms, Park has often been cited as a possible successor to President Moon Jae-in, whose single five-year term is set to expire in 2022.
Park Won-soon's body was found on Friday. His term as mayor ends after 3 thousand 180 days in office.
Choi Jeong-yoon, Arirang News.