‘Parasite’ Actor Dead After 19-Hour Interrogation With Police

 December 29, 2023

The tragic demise of a renowned actor shakes South Korea.

'Parasite' South Korean actor tragically ended his life after enduring a grueling 19-hour police interrogation over drug use allegations.

South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, internationally renowned for his role in the Oscar-winning film "Parasite," was found dead in his car in Seoul, a presumed suicide following an arduous 19-hour police interrogation over drug use allegations. The actor, who was vehemently denying the charges against him, had been accused by a bar hostess of consuming illegal substances, prompting a rigorous investigation by authorities. Despite the absence of drugs in his system, the pressure from the media and the scandal that ensued appears to have taken a devastating toll.

The Intense Scrutiny of a Public Figure

Lee Sun-kyun's prominence in the entertainment industry only intensified the media spotlight on his case, with every detail and development being meticulously reported and scrutinized. The actor's legal representatives claimed that he had been blackmailed and was a victim of a plot to tarnish his reputation. This scandal erupted amidst a backdrop of South Korea's high suicide rates among high-profile personalities, drawing attention to the immense pressure they face.

The actor's final public statement before his death revealed his hope for a fair assessment from the police. He said:

"I feel like it is a bit too late, but I’ve finished the questioning by the police about the blackmail case. I hope the police wisely determine which statements are more reliable between mine and the blackmailers."

His death, shortly after these words, struck a chord with the public and his fans worldwide.

During the investigation, the South Korean media heavily featured the actor, often disregarding his pleas for privacy. Lee's final questioning by the police was marked by a flurry of reporters and celebrity journalists despite his request to be left alone. The relentless media exposure has raised questions about the ethics of reporting and the rights of individuals embroiled in legal battles.

A Nation's Struggle With Celebrity Suicides

South Korea's entertainment industry has been marred by a disturbing trend of suicides among its stars. The high-profile deaths of Korean pop stars Goo Hara and Choi Jin-ri (Sulli) in 2019 cast a long shadow over the nation, igniting conversations about mental health and the toxic pressures of fame. Lee Sun-kyun's death is the latest in this series of tragedies, underscoring a pervasive issue within the celebrity culture in South Korea.

The Yonhap Report noted, “Lee is suspected of using marijuana and other illegal drugs at the home of a hostess working at a high-end bar in Seoul’s Gangnam district on multiple occasions since early this year." This report was part of the intense coverage that followed Lee throughout the investigation, culminating in his untimely death. The vibrant nightlife of Gangnam, often associated with the rich and famous, became the backdrop for this tragic story.

Lee's management agency, Hodu&U Entertainment, released a poignant statement addressing the media's invasive tactics:

“Much pain has occurred due to certain media outlets’ abrupt visits to the late actor’s house, agency office, and funeral... The sudden visits of people identifying themselves as YouTubers, day and night, have made the situation unbearable and brutal."

The Legacy of a Celebrated Actor

Lee Sun-kyun, despite facing legal challenges, was highly regarded in the South Korean film industry. His roles in various films, especially "Parasite," earned him international recognition and a dedicated following. His death has impacted not only South Korea but also the international community that appreciated his contributions.

The woman involved in the allegations against Lee was arrested, and a warrant was issued for a supposed accomplice in the blackmail scheme. These developments add complexity to the circumstances surrounding Lee's death, suggesting deeper issues within the glamorous world of celebrity. Lee's ordeal with the legal case and the intense media attention serves as a stark reminder of the personal toll of being in the public eye.

In his suicide note, Lee Sun-kyun apologized to his family and agency for the distress and suffering caused by the scandal. The revelation of the note by his manager underscores Lee's distress and sense of accountability, even in his final moments. The family's plea for privacy, largely disregarded by the media and some persistent YouTubers, further deepens the tragedy of this situation.


  • South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, known for "Parasite," was found dead in his car in Seoul. His death is presumed a suicide following a 19-hour police interrogation over drug use allegations.
  • Lee faced heavy scrutiny during the investigation. Despite denying the charges, the media intensely followed every development.
  • The actor's final public statement expressed hope for a fair police assessment, but his death soon after highlighted the intense pressure he faced.
  • Lee's case adds to a series of celebrity suicides in South Korea, spotlighting the mental health challenges and pressures in the entertainment industry.
  • Reports accused Lee of using illegal drugs in Gangnam, Seoul. Posthumously, a hostess involved in the accusations was arrested, indicating a possible blackmail plot.
  • Despite the controversy, Lee was respected for his acting, particularly in "Parasite."
  • His death affected fans globally, and his management criticized the media's invasive tactics. He left a suicide note apologizing for the scandal's impact.

About Aileen Barro

With years of experience at the forefront of political commentary, Robert Cunningham brings a blend of sharp wit and deep insight to his analysis of American principles at the Capitalism Institute.

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