‘Parasite’ actor Lee Sun-kyun found dead in South Korea amid drug probe as wife reportedly told police he left suicide note at home
South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, known for his role in the Oscar-winning movie “Parasite,” was found dead on Wednesday, December 27 from an apparent suicide, authorities said.
Lee, 48, was discovered unconscious inside a car beside a charcoal briquette which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning when burned in an enclosed space at a Seoul park around 10:30 a.m., South Korean Yonhap news agency reported.
The actor was reported missing earlier in the day. His manager told police that he had left home, leaving behind an apparent suicide note, the news outlet reported.
His death comes amid an investigation into his alleged illegal drug use.
Lee was questioned three times by police regarding the probe, including for a grueling 19 hours over the weekend. He was first eyed as a suspect in October, the local outlet reported.
The actor apologized for “causing immense disappointment” during the first interrogation on Oct. 28, according to Yonhap. “I am sorry for my family, who are enduring extreme pain at this moment,” he said.
He claimed he was tricked into taking drugs, including marijuana, by a hostess at a high-end bar in Seoul who then attempted to blackmail him, Yonhap reported.
He passed two drug tests during the police probe and also submitted to a polygraph test in an attempt to prove himself innocent and the hostess to be the liar in the scheme.
Lee starred as the father of a wealthy family in the thriller “Parasite,” which was released in 2019. On top of best picture at the Oscars, the acclaimed film also won in three other categories in 2020.
It was the first non-English language movie to win best picture in the Academy Awards’ 92-year history. It was also the first South Korean movie to win an Oscar.
In 2021, Lee clinched a Screen Actors Guild award for “cast in a motion picture” also for his role in “Parasite.”
He has acted in other South Korean movies like “Helpless” in 2012 and “All About My Wife” in 2014.
Lee leaves behind his wife, award-winning actress Jeon Hye-jin, and their two children.
His agency, Hodu & U Entertainment, said his funeral will be private for only family and close friends, Yonhap reported.
“We can’t express how heartbroken and sad we feel … Please refrain from spreading speculation or false information [about him],” the company said in a statement.