- Parasite director Bong Joon-ho and other prominent Korean filmmakers are calling for an investigation into the death of actor Lee Sun-kyun.
- Lee was under investigation for illegal drug use allegations, part of a government crackdown on illegal drugs.
- An Association of Solidarity Among Cultural Artists has been formed, urging for a probe into Lee’s case, media outlets to delete articles, and authorities to revise laws to protect artists’ human rights.
Parasite director Bong Joon-ho has joined forces with other prominent Korean filmmakers and arts organizers to call for an investigation into the death of actor Lee Sun-kyun, who died by suicide in December. Together, they formed the Association of Solidarity Among Cultural Artists and released a statement, asking for a “probe” to investigate the circumstances surrounding the case. They are also urging media outlets to delete articles that do not fulfill their function as journalism and authorities to revise laws to protect artists’ human rights.
The group, which includes South Korea’s Busan International Film Festival and the Korea Entertainment Producer’s Association among 29 members, will hold a press conference in Seoul on Friday. Last month, the acclaimed South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun was declared dead amid several shocking details, according to Seoul police. Lee had been under investigation over illegal drug use allegations amid an ongoing government crackdown on illegal drugs. Lee was found unconscious next to charcoal briquettes inside a car at a park in Seoul on Wednesday morning after his wife reported that Lee had left home and she had found what appeared to be a suicide note, according to Yonhap. Lee was aged 48.
This followed Lee’s 19-hour-long interrogation by police over the weekend before Christmas. He had also been questioned twice on the same case on October 28th and November 4th, according to The Korea Times. Lee claimed he was being blackmailed by a bar hostess with whom he did drugs. After his weekend interrogation, he told reporters, “I feel like it is a bit too late, but I’ve finished the questioning by the police about the blackmail case. I hope the police wisely determine which statements are more reliable between mine and the blackmailers.” South Korea has notoriously stringent and at times draconian drug laws, which can result in imprisonment for months, years, or even up to 14 years for drug use. Suicide by charcoal, and thus carbon monoxide, is more common in Asian countries.
Lee Sun-kyun appeared in numerous South Korean television shows before gaining international recognition in acclaimed films like Paju, Helpless, and A Hard Day. His working relationship with director Hong Sang-soo led to success on the festival circuit, and he became a recognizable face worldwide for his role as the somewhat clueless rich father in the Bong Joon-ho film, Parasite, the first international movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Lee leaves behind his wife, Jeon Hye-jin, and two children.