New details have emerged regarding the final days of Parasite star Lee Sun-kyun, after his shock death shook Hollywood.
Parasite star Lee Sun-kyun reportedly asked police not to publicise information about ongoing investigations into his alleged drug use in the days before his death.
The South Korean actor, 48, was found dead inside a car near Waryong Park in central Seoul at 10.30am on Wednesday, local time.
He had been under investigation for illegal drug use since October. According to reports, the star claimed that he was tricked into taking drugs.
Lee had been questioned three times by police, including for 19 hours last weekend.
Now, reports suggest Lee had asked police not to announce his last appearance for questioning but his request was refused.
Drug offences, including those involving usage of marijuana, are considered serious crime in South Korea. Consumption of marijuana carries prison sentences of up to five years.
The actor reportedly tested negative for drugs in two recent tests but media coverage regarding his police interviews was intense.
Lee’s lawyer said on Tuesday, a day before the star’s body was found, he hoped any future interrogations would be conducted behind closed doors, saying his client felt “burdened” by appearing in public settings to discuss the allegations.
But the head of the district police force that investigated the actor defended his legal treatment, saying the process was justified and done with Lee’s consent.
“The investigation of the deceased was conducted based on specific reports, testimony and evidence and under legally prescribed procedures,” Incheon Metropolitan Police chief Kim Hui-jung said.
Former South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who was a human rights lawyer before entering politics, criticised police practice and sensational media reporting of the case.
“The practice that does huge damage to someone’s honour and character, such as excessively putting them at a media photo line, and pushes them to take the extreme choice must now end,” Moon said on Facebook.
Tributes poured in for the actor following the tragic news.
“He was amazing in Parasite and Hard Day. This is extremely tragic,” one fan wrote.
“He was such a great talent in everything I’ve seen him in, but I can’t even think up any tribute because all I can think of is the tragic and heartbreaking circumstances leading up to his death and how this road is such a common story you hear from the industry,” another fan tweeted.
In Parasite, Lee starred as Park Dong-ik, the patriarch of the wealthy Park family that is, one by one, infiltrated by members of a poorer family posing as highly qualified employees.
The critically acclaimed thriller swept awards at the Oscars in 2020, including best picture. It was the first non-English language film to win the prize.
In 2021, Lee won a Screen Actors Guild award for “cast in a motion picture” for his role. He was nominated for the best actor at the International Emmy Awards for his performance in the sci-fi thriller Dr. Brain last year.
Lee was a familiar figure on Korean screens for decades before his Parasite fame. He became well-known for his role in a popular drama series, Coffee Prince, and gained mainstream popularity with the medical drama Behind The White Tower, followed by Pasta and My Mister.