Lee Sun-kyun, renowned for his role in the Academy Award-winning film Parasite, passed away at the age of 48, in an alleged suicide on December 27, 2023. The actor’s wife, Jeon Hye-jin, reported to the Seoul Seongbuk Police Station, revealing that Lee Sun-kyun had left home after leaving behind a suicide note. The tragic discovery of the actor’s lifeless body was made in his car at Waryong Park in Seoul.
The Death of Lee Sun-kyun
Lee Sun-kyun was accused of using drugs at a private club run by a woman named Yoon Seo-hee, who had a history of drug-related offenses. He claimed that he was unaware of the drugs and that Yoon gave them to him without his consent. He also said that he was blackmailed by Yoon and an unknown hacker, who threatened to expose his drug use to the media and the police. He paid Yoon 350 million won (about $270,000) to keep the scandal quiet, but the hacker demanded more money and increased the pressure on him.
Suicide Note Found
The suicide note left by Lee Sun-kyun, as reported by his wife Jeon Hye-jin to the police, serves as a will for his partner. In her statement, Jeon Hye-jin expressed “My husband had left the house after writing a note that resembles a will.”
The Life and Career of Lee Sun-kyun
Known for The Role in “Parasite”
Lee Sun-kyun was best known for his role as Park Dong-ik, the wealthy and oblivious father of the Park family, in Bong Joon-ho’s acclaimed black comedy film Parasite. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Lee and his castmates won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The film was praised for its satire, social commentary, and cinematography, and Lee’s performance was lauded for his subtle and nuanced portrayal of his character.
Other Notable Films and Dramas
Lee Sun-kyun began his career in musical theatre and made his television debut in 2001. He gained popularity with his roles in the dramas Coffee Prince (2007), White Tower (2007), Pasta (2010), Golden Time (2012), and My Mister (2018). He also starred in several films, such as Paju (2009), Helpless (2012), All About My Wife (2012), A Hard Day (2014), and The King’s Case Note (2017). He collaborated with renowned director Hong Sang-soo in several arthouse films, such as Night and Day (2008), Oki’s Movie (2010), and Nobody’s Daughter Haewon (2013). He received numerous awards and nominations for his acting, including a Best Actor award from the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival and a nomination for an International Emmy Award.
Controversy and Drug Allegations
Alleged Drug Use
The drug scandal involving Lee Sun-kyun broke out on October 19, 2023, when a media outlet reported that he had used drugs at a club run by Yoon Seo-hee, a woman who had been arrested for drug trafficking in 2019. The report claimed that Lee and Yoon had met at the club several times and that Yoon had provided him with drugs, such as methamphetamine and ecstasy. The report also alleged that Lee had used drugs at Yoon’s apartment and that Yoon had filmed him without his knowledge.
The police launched an investigation into the drug allegations and summoned Lee and Yoon for questioning. Lee denied using drugs and said that he had only visited the club once as a guest of a friend. He also said that he had never been to Yoon’s apartment and that he did not know that she was involved in drug dealing. He submitted his hair samples for drug testing and the results came back negative. However, the police said that they needed more evidence to clear his name and that they would continue to investigate the case
The Impact and Aftermath of Lee Sun-kyun’s Death
Shock and Mourning in South Korea
Lee Sun-kyun’s death sent a wave of shock and grief across South Korea, where he was widely admired and respected for his acting and personality. His fans, colleagues, and friends expressed their condolences and paid tribute to him on social media and in public. Many celebrities, such as Bong Joon-ho, Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo, Yoo Jae-suk, and IU, attended his funeral and offered their support to his family. His agency, Hodu&U Entertainment, released a statement saying that they were devastated by his death and that they hoped that he would rest in peace.
Future of Lee’s Projects and Reputation
Lee Sun-kyun had been working on several projects before his death, such as the Netflix series Hellbound, directed by Yeon Sang-ho, and the film Silence, directed by Jung Ji-woo. His agency said that they would respect his wishes and release his works as planned. However, some of his projects faced delays or cancellations due to his death and the drug scandal. For example, the film The King’s Affection, in which he played a supporting role, was postponed indefinitely by the production company. His reputation also suffered a blow from the drug allegations and the media coverage, which tarnished his image and legacy.