South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, renowned for his performance in the Oscar-winning film Parasite, has passed away, as confirmed by South Korea’s emergency office.
Lee Sun-kyun, aged 48 and widely recognized for his role in Parasite, was discovered deceased in a car in a central Seoul park on Wednesday, according to South Korea’s emergency office. The discovery followed a report from his wife, who informed the police that he had left home, accompanied by what seemed to be a suicide note, as reported by South Korean news agency Yonhap.
The actor had been undergoing police scrutiny related to allegations of using marijuana and other psychoactive substances. Lee had been questioned by the police on three occasions, including a 19-hour session over the weekend. He asserted that he was deceived into taking drugs by a bar hostess who subsequently attempted to extort him, according to Yonhap.
South Korea maintains stringent drug laws, and convictions for drug offenses typically carry sentences of at least six months in prison, with potential terms of up to 14 years for repeat offenders and traffickers.
In late October, Lee Sun-kyun briefly addressed reporters before entering an Incheon police station to cooperate with investigators. He expressed sincere apologies for causing disappointment to many people due to his involvement in an unpleasant incident. At that time, he also expressed sorrow for the difficulties his family was enduring.
A graduate of South Korea’s prestigious Korea National University of Arts, Lee commenced his acting career in 2001 with a television sitcom titled Lovers. Over the years, he gained recognition for his versatile performances in various roles. However, on a global scale, he is most renowned for his portrayal of the wealthy and superficial patriarch in director Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning film Parasite in 2019.
Subsequently, Lee Sun-kyun took on the lead role in Apple TV+’s inaugural Korean-language original series, which premiered in 2021. Titled Dr. Brain, the six-episode sci-fi thriller depicted the story of a neurologist with a cold demeanor who seeks clues to a mysterious family accident through brain experiments.
His final film, the horror flick Sleep released this year, portrayed him as a husband whose sleepwalking results in unsettling circumstances. The film garnered positive critical acclaim and was featured in the Critics’ Week section at the Cannes festival.
Lee Sun-kyun is survived by his wife Jeon Hye-jin and their two sons.