South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, renowned for his standout role in the Oscar-winning film “Parasite,” was found dead at the age of 48, casting a shadow over his illustrious career. Authorities confirmed his demise, discovered unconscious in a car at one of Seoul’s main parks on Wednesday.
The circumstances surrounding Lee’s death remain unclear, with authorities investigating whether it was a result of suicide, prompted by a note he reportedly left before leaving home. Tragically, this news emerges as Lee was under investigation for alleged drug use since October, adding complexity to the already distressing situation.
Lee, a versatile actor with a career spanning over two decades, achieved international acclaim for his portrayal of Park Dong-ik in “Parasite,” a film that swept four awards at the Oscars in 2020, including Best Picture.
However, recent events had tarnished his image as he faced allegations of drug use, particularly involving marijuana and ketamine. Despite maintaining innocence and negative or inconclusive drug test results, the investigation took a toll on his professional standing. He was dropped from the TV series “No Way Out,” and businesses began removing promotional materials featuring Lee from their establishments.
In South Korea, celebrities are held to high standards of propriety, and drug offenses, including marijuana use, are considered serious crimes. The country’s President, Yoon Suk Yeol, has vowed a crackdown on drugs, leading to an expansion of the drug crimes department.
Lee’s death follows a recent wave of investigations into drug allegations involving high-profile individuals in South Korea, highlighting the country’s stringent stance on drug-related offenses. K-pop star G-Dragon was among those investigated, although he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Lee, often referred to as “The Voice” for his deep voice, had a prolific career that extended beyond films to television and theater. His recent role in Apple TV+’s “Dr. Brain” showcased his versatility in a sci-fi thriller.
As condolences pour in for Lee Sun-kyun, the circumstances surrounding his death underscore the challenges faced by celebrities under the scrutiny of public and legal judgment. His legacy, marked by his contributions to Korean cinema and his iconic role in “Parasite,” will endure despite the tragic end to his life.