South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, best known globally for his role in the Oscar-winning film Parasite, was found dead in Seoul yesterday, police said.
The 48-year-old actor was found inside a vehicle parked on the street in the capital’s mid-northern Seongbuk District, a Seongbuk police official said.
Citing police, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that Lee had left a “note that reads like a will.”
He had been under police investigation over his alleged use of marijuana and other drugs.
A series of entertainment industry events in South Korea were announced as canceled yesterday to pay condolences to the late actor.
Filmmaker Byun Young-joo, who collaborated with Lee on her 2012 thriller Helpless, honored his memory by posting a pitch-black image on her Instagram account.
Actress Claudia Kim, also known as Kim Soo-hyun, wrote on the social media platform that Lee’s death was “a loss of great talent” for the industry.
“Everyone deserves to be forgiven for their mistakes. Everyone deserves a second chance,” she wrote.
Once celebrated for his wholesome image, local news outlets reported that the actor was being dropped from television and commercial projects following the scandal.
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.
Lee received widespread critical acclaim for his performance in the 2018 TV drama series My Mister, for his portrayal of a diligent architectural engineer.
Globally, he is best known for his role as the wealthy and shallow patriarch in director Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 Oscar-winning film Parasite.
Devastated fans expressed their grief on social media.
“I laughed and cried a lot while watching your acting. Thank you,” one user wrote on X.
Lee’s reputation suffered a significant blow when South Korean authorities launched an investigation into his alleged drug use in October.
He had been suspected of using illicit drugs at the residence of a hostess employed at a high-end bar in Seoul.
The actor asserted that he was “tricked” by the hostess into consuming the drugs and was unaware of what they were, Yonhap reported.
Lee had tested negative for drugs twice, during police investigations and in a laboratory test last month, the news agency reported.
He had also lodged a complaint against two individuals, including the hostess, alleging that they had blackmailed him and extorted money from him.
From Saturday to Sunday last week, he attended his third police investigation session, which lasted 19 hours, Yonhap reported.
Lee is survived by his wife, actress Jeon Hye-jin, and two sons.
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