Filmmaker Demands Probe Into Parasite Actor's Death

Bong Joon-ho wants answers on what happened to Lee Sun-kyun, who died of an apparent suicide
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2024 6:45 AM CST
Filmmaker Demands Probe Into Parasite Actor's Death
South Korean director Bong Joon-ho is seen during a press conference demanding an investigation into the death of late actor Lee Sun-kyun in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea is still reeling from the death last month of popular Parasite actor Lee Sun-kyun, whose body was found in a car in a Seoul park. Lee's family says he'd left behind what appeared to be a suicide note, and now the director of his hit 2019 film is demanding answers, and remedies, to make sure no one else faces a similar fate. Per People, the 48-year-old actor was found dead after he'd endured a 19-hour police interview, part of a lengthy probe into whether he'd used illegal drugs at the home of a Seoul bar hostess. That had been at least his third interview with law enforcement. Lee had insisted he was innocent—he said he'd been tricked into taking drugs at the hostess' home—and last week, two women were referred for indictment on charges of blackmailing him for more than $265,000, reports Yonhap.

His legal team also indicated that Lee, who won an ensemble SAG Award for Parasite, had been distressed over the police's handling of the probe, including apparent leaks to the media, and how his reputation in a country known for its strict drug laws had taken a hit over that media coverage. The investigation into Lee was closed after his death, but now Parasite director Bong Joon-ho and other filmmakers and members of the arts community have teamed up to call for a renewed look at what led to his demise. "We have all come together under the firm conviction that no such incident should ever take place again," the group, called the Association of Solidarity Among Cultural Artists, said in a statement, per the Hollywood Reporter.

The organization added: "We will call for a probe to discover the truth ... request media outlets to delete articles that do not fulfill their function as journalism, as well as urge authorities to revise the law to protect the human rights of artists." The group also held a Friday news conference that was televised nationwide, in which they asked about the alleged leaks, blasted police for always seeming to be dealing with Lee in front of TV cameras, and slammed the media for sensationalizing Lee's case, saying what had happened to him was "severe character assassination," per the AP. "We urge relevant officials to fully investigate whether there were any problems with the security of [the information] in the police investigation," the group said in its statement. (More South Korea stories.)

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