Oscar-winning director Bong Joon Ho demands probe into 'Parasite' actor's death

By Linh Le   January 16, 2024 | 06:06 pm PT
Film director Bong Joon Ho, known for his Oscar-winning movie “Parasite,” is calling for a comprehensive investigation into the death of South Korean actor Lee Sun Kyun.
Late actor Lee Sun Kyun. Photo from Lees management agencys Instagram

Late actor Lee Sun Kyun. Photo from Lee's management agency's Instagram

According to Business Insider, a nationally televised press conference was held on Jan. 12 in Seoul by The Association of Solidarity of Cultural Artists, an organization formed in response to Lee’s passing. Bong and fellow directors, producers, and writers released a planned statement at this event, criticizing the police’s handling of the drug investigation and the media’s intrusion into Lee’s personal life.

They stressed the need for a thorough investigation to identify any failures in the police’s investigative process, especially concerning media leaks that led to relentless primetime exposure for Lee without any protective measures.

The group also highlighted the "severe character assassination" Lee suffered before his death, calling for legal reforms to protect human rights during criminal investigations. Therefore, the artist group urged media outlets to retract articles that they deemed irresponsible. They also called on the government and the National Assembly to reevaluate laws regarding the "human rights of artists."

Lee, aged 48, who gained acclaim for his role in the same movie, was found dead on Dec. 27, 2023 in what appeared to be a suicide, as reported by The Guardian.

The actor was under police investigation for alleged drug use at the time of his death and had reportedly been questioned for 19 hours just days before. He had reportedly claimed during the interrogations that he was tricked into taking drugs.

It is reported that despite Lee’s request for a closed final police interrogation, he was publicly paraded before the media during his last visit to the police station, leading to speculative reporting and rumors on his alleged drug use.

South Korea, which has the highest suicide rate among developed nations, has been grappling with celebrity suicides linked to cyberbullying and public pressure. This trend underscores the harsh environment that public figures face in the country, where even personal actions abroad can lead to severe legal consequences.

The South Korean government’s intensified crackdown on drug use following the 2022 Itaewon crowd crush, which was attributed to alleged drug use, as reported by The Guardian. This crackdown has placed many celebrities under scrutiny for alleged illegal drug activities, including K-pop group BigBang’s rapper T.O.P and actor Yoo Ah In from the Netflix series "Hellbound."

South Korea’s strict anti-drug laws and the high profile of these cases have intensified public interest and media coverage.

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