‘Parasite’ director calls for investigation into actor Lee Sun-kyun’s death


The ‘Parasite’ actors’ deaths in December were reported as suicides following a tabloid scandal over a police drugs investigation.


Bong Joon-ho, the Oscar-winning director of Parasite called for an official investigation into the cause of actor Lee Sun-kyun’s death.

Lee, 48, was found dead in his car on December 27, 2023, in Seoul. The actor’s death was widely ruled a suicide following a police investigation into his drug use.

Lee was best known for starring in Bong’s 2019 film Parasite. The director yesterday led a group of writers, artists and performers in a nationally televised conference in which they questioned why police repeatedly summoned Lee in front of cameras and whether they had inappropriately leaked information about the investigation to the media. They also questioned whether the media had overly sensationalized reports about Lee’s private life that were unrelated to the drug investigation.

“We urge relevant officials to thoroughly investigate whether there were any problems with information security during the police investigation,” they said in a statement.

They said Lee had suffered a “serious character assassination” before his death and called for a review of laws to protect human rights in criminal investigations.

At the time of his death, Lee had been the subject of a tabloid scandal over a police drug investigation that alleged the actor had used illegal drugs at the residence of a bar hostess. Lee filed a lawsuit against two people, including the landlady, claiming they had blackmailed him.

Drug laws in South Korea are particularly strict, and drug-related crimes are generally punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Additionally, South Korea has long boasted the highest suicide rate among developed countries. It has experienced a series of celebrity suicides involving K-pop stars, prominent politicians and business executives. Many celebrity suicides have been attributed to harmful, offensive and serious online comments cyber bullying.

Police and emergency officials initially found Lee in what they believed was an unconscious state in the car parked on a street in northern Seoul. Emergency officials later confirmed that he had died, according to Seoul’s Seongbuk Police Station.

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