‘Parasite’ actor Lee Sun-kyun found dead in midst of drug probe, police say

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South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, known internationally for his role in the Academy Award-winning film “Parasite,” has died while being investigated for illegal drug use, police confirmed Wednesday. He was 48.

Police in the capital Seoul said in a statement they had received a missing person report from Lee’s manager on their hotline. Lee was found in his car on Wednesday morning.

The cause of death is “presumed to be suicide,” police said.

Photos from the scene on Wednesday show personnel in forensic outfits investigating a car cordoned off by police tape.

Police in the city of Incheon confirmed that Lee had been questioned three times since October as part of an investigation into alleged drug use.

Lee had been summoned by police most recently on December 23 and held for 19 hours before he was released the following day.

Throughout the investigation, Lee’s drug tests had all come back negative, Incheon police said, without specifying how many tests he had taken.

Lee had claimed he was tricked into using drugs and subsequently blackmailed by the same individual, police said. Lee filed a lawsuit against the alleged blackmailer, according to police, who added they had received a tip about his alleged drug use before he filed suit.

One man and one woman have been arrested in relation to the drug investigation, police said. On December 26, he had requested police through his lawyers to conduct a polygraph examination of himself and two other people police apprehended.

The police also offered their condolences to the actor’s bereaved family, saying they had tried to prevent media leaks about his drug investigation before its completion – in accordance with South Korean law, which prohibits those involved in a criminal investigation from releasing facts about the suspect before a public indictment is released.

A funeral for Lee will be held “quietly” with family members and colleagues in attendance, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Wednesday, citing his agency, Hodu & U Entertainment.

“Actor Lee Sun-kyun passed away today,” the company said, according to Yonhap. “There is no way to contain the sorrow and devastated feelings.”

“Please refrain from spreading false information based on speculation or assumption,” the company added.

Lee received acclaim for his role as Park Dong-ik, the father of the wealthy Park family in “Parasite.”

He also won praise for his roles in the 2007 television series “Behind the White Tower,” the 2010 series “Pasta,” and the sci-fi thriller series “Dr. Brain,” for which he was nominated for an International Emmy Award.

How to get help: Help is available if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health matters. In the US: Call or text 988, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Globally: The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide have contact information for crisis centers around the world.

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