Lee Sun-Kyun dead: In a shocking turn of events, South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, renowned for his impactful role in the Oscar-winning film “Parasite,” has been found dead in an apparent suicide, according to reports from the Yonhap news agency.
The 48-year-old actor’s lifeless body was discovered inside a vehicle at a park in central Seoul, as confirmed by the Yonhap news agency, citing information from the local police. Lee Sun-kyun had recently been under investigation by authorities for his alleged involvement with marijuana and other psychoactive drugs.
Once celebrated for his wholesome image and versatile acting, Lee had become the subject of public scrutiny, leading to his exclusion from television and commercial projects, as reported by local news outlets. The actor, a graduate of South Korea’s prestigious Korea National University of Arts, began his acting career in 2001 with a television sitcom titled “Lovers” and went on to receive acclaim for his diverse roles.
Globally recognized for his portrayal of the wealthy and shallow patriarch in the critically acclaimed 2019 film “Parasite” by director Bong Joon-ho, Lee Sun-kyun continued to make his mark in the film industry. His latest work, the horror flick “Sleep,” released this year, received critical acclaim and was featured in the Critics‘ Week section at the Cannes festival.
In the wake of the scandal, Lee, who had once again faced the media in late October to address the allegations, expressed profound regret for the disappointment he caused to his fans and the pain endured by his family. South Korea’s stringent laws on illegal drugs, including marijuana, had put the actor in a precarious situation, with citizens facing legal consequences even for drug use abroad.
BREAKING: Actor Lee Sun-kyun of Oscar-winning film ‘Parasite’ dies https://t.co/yLnGp8RR9B— The Associated Press (@AP) December 27, 2023
How did Lee Sun-Kyun’s role in “Parasite” contribute to the film’s historic success?
Lee garnered widespread acclaim for his role in the groundbreaking film “Parasite,” which made history at the 2020 Oscars by winning in four categories, including Best Picture. Notably, the class satire marked the first non-English-language film to clinch the Best Picture award in the Academy Awards’ then-92-year history, and it also secured the distinction of being the first South Korean movie ever to win an Oscar. Within the film, Lee portrayed the affluent patriarch of a wealthy family.
In 2021, Lee’s contributions to “Parasite” were further recognized when he received a Screen Actors Guild award for “cast in a motion picture.” His excellence extended beyond this film, earning him a nomination for Best Actor at the International Emmy Awards for his role in the sci-fi thriller “Dr. Brain” the same year.
Before the global success of “Parasite,” Lee had already solidified his status as a popular actor in South Korea. His rise to stardom commenced with a leading role in the hit TV drama series “Coffee Prince (2007).” Subsequent projects, including the medical dramas “Behind The White Tower (2007),” “Pasta (2010),” and “My Mister (2018),” contributed to his mainstream popularity.
However, Lee’s career faced a setback as he became embroiled in police probes regarding allegations of illegal drug use at the residence of a bar hostess. The ensuing investigation received extensive tabloid coverage, with Lee maintaining that he was deceived into taking the drugs and was unaware of their nature, as reported by Yonhap.
The scandal took a toll on Lee’s professional life, resulting in the loss of several acting projects, according to AFP. South Korea’s strict drug laws were brought into focus, with reports from Reuters indicating that a first-time conviction for drug use can lead to six months in jail, while repeat offenders may face up to 14 years. Notably, even Koreans who legally consume drugs abroad may face prosecution upon returning to their homeland, underscoring the severity of the country’s legal stance on drug-related offenses, as reported by AFP.