South Korean actor Lee Sun Kyun, who played a pivotal role in the Oscar-award-winning film, ‘Parasite,’ was found dead on Wednesday morning in Seoul. He was 48 years old. According to police, he was found unconscious inside a car next to a charcoal briquette in a park. The cause of death is yet to be confirmed, but it is presumed that he committed suicide. Lee made headlines for the past few months as he was investigated over illegal drug use. He had been taken into custody three times for questioning, with the most extended session lasting 19 hours over a weekend. The investigation was reportedly triggered by a woman in her 20s who said she had lured the actor to her residence and blackmailed him into taking drugs. Lee allegedly tested negative for drug use and claimed to have been tricked into taking drugs by the woman, Yonhap news agency reported. The actor was also a star of several television series and films and had built up a wholesome public image before the alleged drug scandal. His wife and two children survive Lee.
He has been a famous star in South Korean films and TV shows such as the 2012 thriller, ‘Helpless,’ ‘All About My Wife’ and the medical dramas Behind the White Tower and Pasta. He was also the star of Apple TV’s first Korean series, sci-fi drama ‘Dr. Brain’, released in 2021. Besides his acting career, Lee had been a devoted family man and was well-known for his wholesome image. The scandal tarnished this image and led to some companies dropping their projects with the star, including a drama series that began shooting in October.
Despite the accusations, Lee insisted that he was innocent and denied wrongdoing. He said he did not take the illegal drugs and that he was only tricked into taking them by a bar hostess who was trying to blackmail him.
In South Korea, where drug use is a significant problem, those caught with drug-related crimes face harsh punishments. Those who use drugs face up to six months in prison, and those dealing drugs can be imprisoned for up to 14 years.
Lee had been a well-known star, and his case had drawn worldwide attention due to the country’s crackdown on hard drugs. This crackdown has swept high-profile actors, singers, and socialites into its net, with the likes of K-pop singer G-Dragon among those to be arrested on suspicion of using drugs. In a country where celebrities are held to hygienic standards, the scandal has put Lee’s reputation at risk and forced him to pull out of some future projects. He was dropped from a drama series called ‘No Way Out’ and was forced to remove his pictures from stores and billboards. It is feared that his death could be linked to the publicity around the ongoing investigation. Fans, friends, and colleagues mourn Lee’s death.