SEOUL (AFP) – A middle-aged South Korean taxi driver found dead on a crucifix after Easter weekend nailed himself to the cross, police said Tuesday, adding his deep religious faith helped him withstand the pain.

The body of the 58-year-old man surnamed Kim was found on May 1 on a wooden cross in an abandoned quarry in the central city of Mungyeong, with nails protruding through holes in his hands and feet.

He was wearing only underpants and a crown of thorns. He had a stab wound on his right waist and several whip marks in an apparent reconstruction of Christ's death.

Police said earlier Kim was thought to have died over the Easter weekend from April 22 to 24, but the body was not found for more than a week. They had been investigating whether he killed himself or had assistance.

Forensic experts reconstructed the death based on notes found at the scene describing how to carry out a crucifixion, local police said, adding the handwriting matched Kim's.

"We confirmed, through two rounds of simulation, that it was possible to stage the crucifixion alone," police said in a statement.

They said Kim, standing on a small footrest on the cross, nailed his feet to the cross. He lashed his neck and chest before stabbing himself in the waist and piercing his hands with a power drill.

Kim then apparently slipped his pierced hands over nails on the cross.

"We believe that deep religious faith made it possible to carry out the series of extraordinary actions involving extreme pain," police said, adding Kim died of suffocation and blood loss.

South Korea has 8.6 million Protestants, 5.1 million Catholics and around 10 million Buddhists in its population of about 49 million, according to official figures.