South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, renowned for his role in the acclaimed film “Parasite,” tragically passed away at the age of 48. Acknowledged as one of the foremost dramatic actors in South Korea, Lee was celebrated for his performances in various productions such as 2009’s “Paju,” which garnered considerable awards attention, along with notable works like “Helpless” (2012) and “A Hard Day” (2014). Additionally, he contributed significantly to esteemed television projects.
However, Lee faced a significant decline in his reputation within his homeland in recent weeks. Allegations surfaced in October, accusing him of consuming illegal drugs—marijuana and ketamine—at a Seoul hostess bar. In defense, Lee claimed that the substances were provided by the hostess and he mistakenly believed them to be legal sleeping pills.
The strict narcotics laws in South Korea had a severe impact on Lee’s career. Consequently, he was swiftly removed from the TV series “No Way Out,” which he was actively involved in, and advertisements featuring him were reportedly withdrawn. Law enforcement initiated an investigation, leading to an extensive 19-hour interrogation on December 23, 2023.
Regarding Lee’s cause of death, on December 27, 2023, he was discovered inside his car at a Seoul park. It appeared that he had died by suicide through carbon monoxide poisoning using charcoal briquettes. This method sadly aligns with a common approach to suicide in South Korea, and it was reported that Lee had left a note at his residence, elucidating his actions.
Lee’s agency, HODU&U Entertainment, urged the public not to speculate beyond established facts:
“There is no way to contain the sorrow and despair. We respectfully ask that you refrain from spreading false facts based on speculation… so that [Lee’s] final journey will not be unfair.”
Rest in Peace, Lee Sun-kyun (1975-2023).