Lee Sun-kyun, the South Korean actor who starred in Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning film Parasite and also featured in the Apple TV+ series Dr. Brain, died in an apparent suicide. He was 48 years old.
South Korean News Agency Yonhap reports that Lee was found dead in a car in a Seoul park on Wednesday morning local time. Yonhap reports that Lee’s wife reported to police that the actor had left the house and found what appeared to be a suicide note.
Local media reported that Lee was under investigation following allegations he used illegal drugs. In recent weeks, the South Korean government’s continued crackdown on hard drugs has resulted in a series of allegations against high-profile figures, including actors, singers, socialites and heirs of the richest families from the country. K-pop singer G-Dragon is among those who have fallen victim to the crackdown, although he was cleared of any wrongdoing last week.
Yonhap reports that Lee was questioned three times by police, including for 19 hours over the weekend, about his use of marijuana and psychoactive drugs. Lee reportedly visited Seoul’s Gangnam district several times since the beginning of this year, including last Saturday, where he allegedly took drugs. The actor reportedly said he was lured into taking drugs by a bar hostess, who then tried to blackmail him.
South Korea’s drug laws are notoriously harsh, and crimes are generally punishable by at least six months in prison or up to 14 years for repeat offenders and traffickers.
Lee is best known to Western audiences for playing Park Dong-ik, the patriarch of the wealthy family that owns the house that serves as the setting for Bong’s 2019 black comedy thriller. Parasite. Lee received a Screen Actors Guild Award along with the rest of the Parasite casting.
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