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Lee Sun-kyun: South Korean ‘Parasite’ Actor Found Dead Amid Drug Investigation, Police Say

Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images

South Korean actor Lee Sun Kyun pictured on October 7, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

Seoul, South Korea

South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, known internationally for his role in the Oscar-winning film “Parasite”, has died while under investigation for illegal drug use, a police confirmed Wednesday. He was 48 years old.

Police in the capital Seoul said in a statement that they received a missing person report from Lee’s manager on their hotline. Lee was found in his car Wednesday morning.

The cause of death is “suspected to be suicide,” police said.

Photos from the scene Wednesday show forensic personnel investigating a car cordoned off with police tape.

Incheon city police confirmed that Lee had been questioned three times since October as part of an investigation into alleged drug use.

Lee was summoned by police on December 23 and detained for 19 hours before being released the following day.

Throughout the investigation, Lee’s drug tests all came back negative, Incheon police said, without specifying how many tests he had taken.

Lee had claimed he was lured into using drugs and then blackmailed by the same individual, police said. Lee filed a lawsuit against the alleged blackmailer, according to police, who added that they received information about his alleged drug use before filing the lawsuit.

A man and woman were arrested in connection with a drug investigation, police said.

Lee won acclaim for his role as Park Dong-ik, the father of the wealthy Park family in “Parasite.”

He also received praise for his roles in the 2007 television series “Behind the White Tower”, the 2010 series “Pasta” and the science fiction thriller series “Dr. Brain”, for which he was nominated for an International Emmy Award.

How to get help: Help is available if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health issues. In the United States: call or text 988, Suicide and crisis lifeline.
On a global scale: the International Association for Suicide Prevention And Friends from all over the world have contact details for crisis centers around the world.

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