South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, famous for his role in the hit film Parasite , was found dead, South Korea’s emergency office announced Wednesday, December 27.
The 48-year-old actor was found unconscious inside a vehicle in the center of the capital, Seoul, with a lit charcoal briquette next to him, South Korean news agency Yonhap said, citing the police.
The latter, according to the agency, was looking for Lee Sun-kyun because his family reported that he had left home after writing a message resembling a suicide note earlier on Wednesday.
Affected by a scandal
Lee Sun-kyun was under police investigation on suspicion of using cannabis and other psychotropic drugs. South Korean law is very strict when it comes to drug use. President Yoon Suk-yeol this year called for tougher measures to eliminate drug trafficking, in a country where the sale of cannabis is punishable by life in prison.
The actor spoke to journalists at the end of October, before an interrogation at a police station in the city of Incheon, near Seoul. “I sincerely apologize for disappointing many people by being involved in such an unpleasant incident,” he said. “I am sorry for my family who are enduring such difficult pain at this time (…) Once again, I sincerely apologize to everyone,” he added.
This scandal tarnished his image as a successful actor, depriving him of television appearances and advertising contracts, according to several South Korean media.
International notoriety with “Parasite”
Lee Sun-kyun became known in his country for his role in the series Coffee Prince, and Behind The White Tower in 2007, then Pasta (2010) and My Mister (2018). He has appeared in several feature films by director Hong Sang-soo, including Haewon and the Men in 2013.
But it was with Parasite – which won four Oscars in 2020 including that of best film after receiving the Palme d’Or at Cannes – under the direction of Bong Joon-ho, that he achieved international notoriety, in the role of father of a wealthy family, who gets closer at his expense to the poor family he employs.
After Parasite , the actor was seen in the series Dr Brain (2021) , high-tech variation on the Frankenstein myth. His latest film, Sleep , where he plays the role of a sleepwalking husband who terrorizes his wife, was presented, out of competition, at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, in the “Critics Week” category.