Parasite director Bong Joon-ho has joined with fellow South Korean artists to appeal for an investigation into the death of actor Lee Sun-kyun.
Lee, who played the wealthy father in Bong’s Oscar-winning film, was found unconscious in his car near Waryong Park in central Seoul last month. He was 48 years old.
Lee was under investigation over illegal drug use amid an ongoing government crackdown on narcotics, per Yonhap.
Lee had been subject to three rounds of police questioning over suspected use of marijuana and other illicit drugs, according to reports. The alleged incidents took place at the residence of a hostess employed by a high-end bar in Seoul’s Gangnam district on several occasions since the beginning of this year, including last Saturday, Yonhap reported.
After 19 hours of police interrogation overnight on Saturday, Lee reportedly asked for a lie detector test to ascertain the truth between him and the hostess.
The woman, in her twenties, claimed that Lee had used drugs at her residence on multiple occasions, according to the Korea Herald. The newspaper also reported that Lee had filed a complaint against the woman, alleging that she had blackmailed and extorted 350 million won ($270,000) from him.
According to reports in The Guardian, The Association of Solidarity of Cultural Artists, comprised of 29 culture and arts groups, has now released a statement urging authorities and the media to prevent similar deaths in the future.
It reads: “In the face of the tragic death of actor Lee Sun-kyun, we shared the same heart that this should never happen again. We will call for investigation officials’ probe to discover the truth, request media outlets to delete articles that do not fit their function as media, as well as urge authorities to revise the law to protect the human rights of artists.”
A number of South Korean celebrities, including pop stars and actors, have killed themselves in the past few years, including Moonbin, Haesoo and Jonghyun.
The organisation has scheduled a press conference, featuring Bong and other filmmakers, for Friday 12 January.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email [email protected], or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.