Lee Sun-kyun, the South Korean actor who starred in the 2019 Oscar-winning film Parasite, has died of an apparent suicide.

He was 48.

“South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that Lee was found dead inside a car at a park in Seoul on Wednesday morning, local time. Yonhap reports that Lee’s wife reported to police that the actor had left home and that she had found what appeared to be a suicide note,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote.

“There’s no way to contain sorrow and despair,” a statement from the actor’s management company read.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Local media reports that Lee had been under investigation over allegations that he had used illegal drugs. In recent weeks, the South Korean government’s ongoing crackdown on hard drugs has led to a series of allegations against high-profile people including actors, singers, socialites and heirs to the country’s richest families. The K-pop singer G-Dragon is among those who have been swept up in the crackdown, though he was cleared of any wrongdoing last week.

Yonhap reports that Lee had been questioned three times by police, including for 19 hours over the weekend over his use of marijuana and psychoactive drugs. Lee is reported to have visited Seoul’s Gangnam district on multiple occasions since early this year, including last Saturday, where he allegedly took drugs. The actor reportedly said he was tricked into taking drugs by a bar hostess, who then tried to blackmail him.


South Korea’s drug laws are notoriously tough, and crimes are typically punishable by at least six months in prison or up to 14 years for repeat offenders and dealers.

Lee is best known to Western audiences for playing Park Dong-ik, the patriarch of the rich family that owns the house that is the setting of Bong’s 2019 black comedy thriller Parasite. Lee was awarded a Screen Actors Guild Award along with the rest of the Parasite cast.

ABC News added:

The team went on to ask the public to “refrain from spreading false facts based on speculation and malicious reports so that the deceased’s final journey will not be unfair.”

There are plans for a quiet funeral for family and colleagues, according to the management company.

“We express our deepest condolences on the deceased’s final journey,” the statement concluded.

Lee was one of the stars of director/writer Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar Best Picture winner in 2020.

According to Wikipedia, Parasite won the following Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director
  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best International Feature Film

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