Parasite actor Lee Sun-kyun dies age 48 amid police investigation

He was best known for his performance in the 2019 Oscar-winning film

Actor Lee Sun-kyun from the Oscar-winning movie 'Parasite' has died

Actor Lee Sun-kyun from the Oscar-winning movie 'Parasite' has died
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South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun has died. He was 48.

He was found dead in a car in a central Seoul park on Wednesday by authorities, the Korean emergency office said.

According to South Korean media outlets, including the Yonhap news agency, authorities were searching for Lee after his family filed a missing persons report. Lee had left home earlier that day after writing an apparent suicide note.

The actor was part of an ongoing investigation since October over accusations of illegal drug use. Lee had been questioned by the police three times, and as a result, decided to drop out of his latest project, No Way Out, a coming thriller drama.

Who was Lee Sun-kyun?

Lee, born in 1975, first gained attention in Korea after his role in the popular drama series Coffee Prince in 2007. He found mainstream popularity with the medical drama Behind The White Tower, followed by Pasta in 2010, the romantic comedy All About My Wife in 2012, and the black comedy A Hard Day in 2014.

Lee gained international fame for his role in the dark-comedy thriller Parasite in 2019, directed by Bong Joon-ho. The film won the best picture, best director, best original screenplay and best international feature film in the 2020 Academy Awards.

Lee played the role of Park Dong-ik, the head of a wealthy family, whose home is secretly taken over by the destitute Kim clan. Lee’s performance won him an Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture in the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Lee also played the lead in Apple TV+'s first Korean-language original series, Dr Brain, which was released in 2021.

The six-episode sci-fi thriller follows a cold-hearted neurologist who is hunting for clues through brain experiments after the mysterious death of a family.

Lee’s performance landed him a nomination for Best Actor at the 50th International Emmy Awards in 2022.

Korean celebrities pay tribute to fallen star

Lee's passing prompted an outpouring of love and sorrow from his collaborators and contemporaries across the country.

"So shocked and heartbroken to hear the news," Fantastic Beasts star Claudia Kim shared on her Instagram. "Everyone deserves to be forgiven for their mistakes. Everyone deserves a second chance. What a loss of great talent it is for the Korean entertainment industry."

Actor and singer Lee Ji-hoon posted a black square on his Instagram in seeming reference to the tragic event.

K-pop star Cha Hyun-ok, also known as Yuri of the group Legendary Cool, shared: "I am so sad. This makes me even more afraid of people. He was human, just like us. Should his mistake cost him his life? This is heartbreaking and tragic. Sending prayers to his family."

Updated: December 27, 2023, 12:50 PM