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Lee Sun Kyun, star of Oscar-winning film ‘Parasite,’ dies during drug investigation

Actor Lee Sun Kyun, who gained international fame in the Oscar-winning film “Parasite,” died in Seoul amid a police investigation into suspected drug use. He was 48 years old.

His death was confirmed by the Associated Press and Korean media, citing local police.

Lee’s wife reported to police that he left a note similar to a suicide note, according to Korean media outlet Yonhap News. Police then found Lee unconscious in his car in a Seoul park around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday local time, according to the media outlet.

Lee was under investigation by local police for the past two months due to allegations of drug use.

Yonhap News reported that he was questioned on suspicion of using marijuana and other illegal drugs. Lee had previously said he was tricked into using drugs.

The actor’s agency, HODU&U Entertainment, said in October that Lee had been the subject of threats and extortion over his alleged drug use. He tested negative in drug tests administered by authorities, according to Yonhap News.

Over the weekend, Lee was questioned by police for 19 hours, Yonhap News reported.

The actor, who has had a long career in South Korea since 1999, first rose to prominence in 2007 as one of the leads in the medical drama “Behind the White Tower” and the romantic comedy “Behind the White Tower.” Coffee Prince. In 2018, he played the role of the main male protagonist in the drama “My Mister”.

He gained worldwide fame with his role as Park Dong-ik, a tech titan, in the 2019 film “Parasite” directed by Bong Joon Ho. Bong’s film is the first non-English language film to win the Oscar for best film.

The film’s cast, including Lee, was praised by critics, including Justin Chang of The Times.

“Almost every great performance is a well-executed scam, an elaborate plan skillfully imposed on the audience. » Chang wrote in 2020. “Surely this is one of the reasons why the cast of “Parasite” has established such a powerful connection with critics and audiences around the world, even those walking out of the theater remember individual faces better than names. “

Last year, Lee was nominated for Best Actor at the International Emmy Awards for his performance in the sci-fi thriller “Dr. Brain.”

The police investigation appeared to take a toll on Lee’s career, prompting the actor to drop out of the K-drama thriller series “No Way Out,” according to media reports.

Intense questions over drug abuse allegations are not uncommon in South Korea, a country with strict drug laws and growing public concern about drug abuse.

Along with Lee’s drug investigation, police were investigating K-pop star G-Dragon, Kwon Ji-yong of the group Big Bang, for alleged illegal drug use at a Seoul bar in December 2022. The case was closed earlier. this month, after Kwon tested negative on drug tests and police were unable to find enough evidence of drug use.

Kwon announced Monday that he would donate 300 million won, or about $230,000, to establish a foundation to fight drug addiction.

Earlier this year, “Hellbound” and “Burning” actor Yoo Ah-in was accused of illegally using drugs, including marijuana, propofol and cocaine. He was questioned by police for 21 hours in May.

A Seoul court rejected a police request for an arrest warrant, after Yoo admitted to most drug-related charges. The high-profile case sparked public opprobrium, including when someone hit him with a plastic water bottle after he appeared in court in May.

In a statement released to Korean media following Lee’s death, HODU&U Entertainment said: “There is no way to contain our grief and despair.

“We respectfully request that you refrain from spreading falsehoods based on speculation,” the statement said.

Lee is survived by his wife, actor Jeon Hye Jin, and their two sons.

Suicide Prevention and Crisis Counseling Resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, seek professional help and call 9-8-8. America’s first three-digit national mental health helpline, 988, will connect callers with trained mental health counselors. Text “HOME” to 741741 in the United States and Canada to reach the crisis text line.

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