Actor Found Dead in South Korea

( – A South Korean movie star has been found dead in an apparent suicide. Lee Sun-Kyun had been under investigation for suspected drug use under South Korea’s strict laws. He had insisted he was the victim of a blackmail operation.

Forty-eight-year-old actor Lee Sun-Kyun hit the headlines in 2019 when he played a lead role in the Oscar-winning “Parasite.” The South Korean thriller was the first ever non-English language movie to win the Best Picture award, and Lee’s portrayal of scam victim Park Dong-ik played a major part in its success.

Unfortunately, recently he’s been in the news for other reasons. In late October news leaked that he was being investigated for suspected drug use, an offense that can carry a six-month jail sentence in South Korea — with penalties reaching 14 years for repeat offenders. On October 24 he was charged, and over the next two months, he was questioned repeatedly.

Lee claimed he’d been tricked into taking drugs by a hostess at a Seoul bar, who then tried to blackmail him. During the police investigation, he tested negative for drugs twice, including from a hair sample that can detect non-recent drug use. He also requested polygraph tests in an attempt to prove the hostess was lying. There was no physical evidence against him, just an unsupported allegation, but nevertheless, that was enough to get him dropped from several acting projects.

Around 10:30 am on December 27, Lee was found dead in his car in a Seoul park. There was a charcoal briquette on the seat beside him; this is a common suicide method in South Korea, as burning charcoal in a confined space produces painless but lethal carbon monoxide gas. He was married with two children; his wife reported him missing after he left home, leaving behind a probable suicide note.

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