SOUTH Korean police have found the body of a fugitive billionaire businessman sought over April's ferry disaster that left more than 300 people dead or missing.

Police officer Wu Hyung-ho said the body was found in a field in the southern South Korean city of Suncheon and the results of DNA and fingerprint tests showed they matched those of Yoo Byung-eun.

The officer said the body was already decayed too much beyond recognition when it was found and more thorough investigation is needed to find how and when he died.

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The man's body was wearing a pair of expensive shoes and a costly Italian-made jacket.

Also found near him were three empty Korean local liquor bottles, a bag and a magnifying glass.

Authorities believe Mr Yoo was the owner of the ferry and that his alleged corruption may have contributed to its sinking.