Lee Sun-kyun, the acclaimed South Korean actor renowned for his role in the Oscar-winning masterpiece “Parasite,” was discovered lifeless in a car on the streets of northern Seoul, leaving fans and the film industry in profound sorrow.
The tragedy comes after weeks of a rigorous police investigation into the actor’s alleged involvement with illegal drugs.
Authorities initially found Lee in what appeared to be an unconscious state inside the parked car. Subsequent confirmation from emergency officers declared the 48-year-old actor’s demise, adding a somber note to the unfolding events.
Lee had been reported missing by his family, who earlier in the day conveyed concerns to the police after he left home, leaving a message reminiscent of a suicide note, according to South Korean media outlets.
The actor, who portrayed the head of a wealthy family in the groundbreaking film “Parasite,” had enjoyed widespread success in the entertainment industry.
The film’s triumph at the Oscars in 2020 marked a historic moment as the first non-English-language film to clinch the coveted Best Picture award.
Prior to “Parasite,” Lee had already gained fame through notable TV dramas like “Coffee Prince (2007),” solidifying his position as a beloved figure in South Korean entertainment.
Lee’s recent troubles, however, extended beyond the glitz of the screen. He had been under police scrutiny for alleged drug use at the residence of a bar hostess.
Despite vehemently denying any wrongdoing and claiming he was deceived into taking drugs, the investigation thrust him into the spotlight of tabloid scrutiny and unverified online rumors.
In a tragic turn of events, Lee’s family reported that he had faced immense challenges amidst the investigation. The actor had filed a lawsuit against two individuals, including the hostess, accusing them of blackmail.
While Incheon police announced the conclusion of their investigation into Lee’s drug use allegations, the probe into the individuals he had sued will persist.
South Korea, grappling with a surge in drug-related offenses, has strict anti-drug laws, but the nation’s struggle with high-profile suicides, including those of celebrities, remains a pressing concern.
Lee Sun-kyun leaves behind his actress wife Jeon Hye-jin and two sons, casting a shadow over South Korea’s entertainment landscape. As the industry grapples with the loss, questions surrounding the toll of public scrutiny on celebrities and the broader issue of mental health come to the forefront.