Lee Sun-Kyun, a South Korean actor who earned worldwide attention after starring in the award-winning thriller movie ‘Parasite’, was found deceased on Wednesday in Seoul in an apparent suicide, according to officials.
The 48-year-old, who received critical acclaim for his portrayal of the wealthy patriarch in ‘Parasite’, was the first South Korean actor to win an Oscar.
Over the past weeks, however, he had been facing drug charges and had been questioned by police three separate times amid a government crackdown, with one of the sessions lasting more than 19 hours.
According to news agency Yonhap, the actor had said he was tricked by a bar hostess into taking the drugs and was later blackmailed by the individual.
A fire official said he was later reported missing, which triggered a city-wide search.
Lee was eventually found in a vehicle in a Seoul Park, after police were told by his manager that the actor had left home after leaving behind an apparent suicide note.
The South Korean actor’s agency, HODU&U Entertainment has not yet made a statement.
According to domestic media, however, the agency did cite a statement where they expressed sadness at his death. They also urged individuals from providing false information or speculating on the case.
He is survived his his wife, two children, and siblings.
Lee was born in 1975 in Seoul, South Korea, and studied acting at the Korea National University of Arts, after which he made his professional debut in a 1999 music video.
He later made himself known in the popular Korean TV series ‘Behind the White Tower’ and ‘Coffee Prince’. He was also cast as the main lead in the 2010 rom-com ‘Pasta’ and the 2018 drama ‘My Mister’.
However, it wasn’t until 2019, when he starred as the head of a wealthy family in the thriller series ‘Parasite’, that he gained worldwide acclaim.
The film would go on to win four separate Academy Awards in 2020, including one for ‘Best Motion Picture’, making it the first non-English film to achieve such a feat.
South Korea’s Strict Drug Laws
South Korea has strict drug laws, where most drug-related crimes such as drug dealing and trafficking, are punishable by up to life behind bars. Citizens can also be charged if they’re found to have taken drugs overseas.
Over the years, these laws have forced several South Korean celebrities to retreat from stardom as scandals would cause their contracts to be canceled.
Last October, the country’s justice ministry announced that it would be putting together a government-wide cooperation system in response to the increased drug use seen in the country.
Last year, Lee also received a nomination at the International Emmy Awards for best actor for his portrayal in the sci-fi thriller film ‘Dr Brain.’