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Parasite actor Lee Sun-kyun found dead in Seoul

user avatar Author: Editors Desk Source: The Guardian
December 27, 2023 at 09:14

South Korean actor had been under police investigation over his alleged use of drugs
A look back at Parasite actor Lee Sun-kyun's career – video obituary

South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, best known for his role in the Oscar-winning film Parasite, has died, South Korea’s emergency office announced.

Lee was found dead in a car in a central Seoul park on Wednesday, it said.

Lee, 48, was found after his wife reported to police that he had left home, and she had found what appeared to be a suicide note, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

He had been under police investigation over his alleged use of marijuana and other psychoactive drugs.

Lee had been questioned three times by police, including for 19 hours over the weekend. The actor had said he was tricked into taking drugs by a bar hostess who then tried to blackmail him, Yonhap reported.

South Korea has tough drug laws, and drug crimes are typically punishable by at least six months in prison or up to 14 years for repeat offenders and dealers.

Lee Sun-kyun arriving at a police station in Incheon for his police questioning. Photograph: YONHAP/AFP/Getty Images
Lee Sun-kyun arriving at a police station in Incheon for his police questioning. Photograph: YONHAP/AFP/Getty Images

He briefly spoke to reporters in late October before entering an Incheon police station to meet with investigators.

“I sincerely apologise for causing great disappointment to many people by being involved in such an unpleasant incident,” he said at the time, adding, “I feel sorry for my family, which is enduring such difficult pain at this moment.

A graduate of South Korea’s prestigious Korea National University of Arts, Lee made his acting debut in 2001 in a television sitcom titled Lovers.

He later won acclaim for his performances in a variety of roles, but globally, he is best known for his portrayal of the wealthy and shallow patriarch in director Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 Oscar-winning film Parasite.

Lee Sun-kyun in 2019’s Parasite. Photograph: Curzon Artificial Eye/Allstar
Lee Sun-kyun in 2019’s Parasite. Photograph: Curzon Artificial Eye/Allstar

He later played the lead in Apple TV+’s first Korean-language original series, which launched in 2021. A six-episode sci-fi thriller, Dr. Brain told the tale of a cold-hearted neurologist, hunting for clues to a mysterious family accident through brain experiments.

His last film, this year’s horror flick Sleep – in which he played a husband whose sleepwalking eventually leads to horrifying circumstances – was well received critically and featured in the Critics’ Week section at the Cannes festival.

He is survived by wife Jeon Hye-jin and two sons.

Reuters, AP and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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