SEOUL, May 23 (UPI) -- Roh Moo-hyun, president of South Korea from 2003 to 2008, died Saturday in an apparent suicide during a mountain walk with an aide, police said.
The South Gyeongsang Provincial Police Agency said Roh jumped or fell just before 7 a.m., tumbling into a ravine on a mountainside near his home, the JoongAng Daily reported.
Roh's lawyer said the former president left what he described as a "brief" suicide note, Yonhap news agency said.
The White House Saturday issued a statement from U.S. President Barack Obama in which he said he was "saddened" by the news of Roh's death.
"During his tenure, President Roh contributed to the strong and vital relationship between the United States and the Republic of Korea," Obama said. "On behalf of government of the United States, I offer my condolences to his family and to the Korean people."
Roh and his family were under investigation in a bribery scandal. His elder brother was sentenced to four years in prison this month for receiving payments in return for peddling influence in the buyout of an ailing brokerage firm by a state-run company in 2006.
Roh was rushed to a hospital in Gimhae and then to Pusan University Hospital in Yangsan where he was pronounced dead just before 9 a.m.
A human rights lawyer, Roh was elected to Parliament the first time in 1988 and served off and on through 2000. After losing an election that year, he became minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in 2000 and won a close race for president in 2002.
In 2004, the National Assembly voted for impeachment, but the Constitutional Court reversed the vote.