'Parasite' actor Lee Sun-kyun found dead at park in Seoul
Lee Sun-kyun, an actor who has been going through police questioning on suspicions of drug use, took his own life in a car parked near Waryong Park in Jongno District in central Seoul on Wednesday, the police said.
Lee was best known for his role in the Oscar-winning film "Parasite." He was 48 years old.
The police confirmed Lee's identity after searching for the actor after Lee's wife called them at 10:12 a.m.
A suicide note was reportedly found at his apartment.
A bottle of soju and a briquette was also found on the passenger seat.
He appeared before the police for three rounds of questioning since October.
Lee reportedly told the police that he snorted illicit drugs with a straw.
The last questioning took place on Saturday. He was questioned for 19 hours.
He said he was told later that the powder he snorted was a sedative by a hostess at a high-end bar in Seoul.
The actor was among eight people who have been investigated for drug use, including the 29-year-old employee of the bar, Good Place, in Gangnam, Seoul.
The actor was accused of using drugs not only at the bar but also at the employee's residence.
Lee tested negative for drugs both in a brief test and a lab-based test.
According to the police, the actor said he was duped by the employee and requested a polygraph test.
Lee also told the police that he was being blackmailed, and he gave 350 million won ($270,290) to the employee.
The employee, only identified by her last name, Kim, reportedly told the actor on the phone that her phone was hacked and that a blackmailer demanded money.
A police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity to the JoongAng Ilbo said the investigation on Lee was almost concluded, saying they were surprised to find out he died.
"We were in the final stages of deciding whether to turn the case over to the prosecutor's office," the officer said, adding Lee was likely not to face indictment.
The Incheon police, who have been in charge of running the investigation on the scandal, said no "excessive" measures were taken during Lee's questionings, adding Lee's 19-hour questioning late into the night on Saturday was done with his consent.
An Incheon police officer said Lee showed no signs of discomfort during the questioning.
"We respected his opinion," the officer said.
The police, however, said that they will continue their investigation on the cases connected to Lee's investigation on other individuals who either consumed drugs or were involved in their distribution.
Lee, who debuted in 2001 with the musical Rocky Horror Show, played major roles in popular TV shows, such as "Pasta" (2010).
Lee is survived by his wife, actor Jeon Hye-jin, and his two sons.
Lee's agency, HODU&U Entertainment, said, "We are deeply sorrowed and despaired," while asking the media to refrain from making speculations and spreading misinformation regarding the actor.
The agency added Lee's funeral will only include the actor's family and close associates.
Lee’s body is currently moved to Seoul National University Hospital.
If you or someone you know is feeling emotionally distressed or struggling with thoughts of suicide, LifeLine Korea can be contacted at 1588-9191. The Seoul Foreign Resident Center offers English-language counseling. Contact 02-2229-4900 to arrange a session. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [email@example.com]