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Bong Joon-ho, other artists call for probe into Lee Sun-kyun’s death

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Jan. 9, 2024 - 16:55

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Actor Lee Sun-kyun's portrait is seen at his funeral altar at Seoul National University Hospital’s funeral hall in Jongno-gu, Seoul on Dec. 28. (Joint Press Corp.) Actor Lee Sun-kyun's portrait is seen at his funeral altar at Seoul National University Hospital’s funeral hall in Jongno-gu, Seoul on Dec. 28. (Joint Press Corp.)

South Korean actors, artists and filmmakers have turned out en masse, calling for a probe into the circumstances behind prolific actor Lee Sun-kyun's death.

The world-renowned actor 48, died last month in an apparent suicide amid a weekslong police investigation into allegations he had used illegal drugs.

The Association of Solidarity of Cultural Artists (direct translation), a newly established organization of 29 culture and arts groups, including the Busan Film Festival and the Korea Entertainment Producer's Association, released a statement Tuesday urging the authorities and media to prevent similar deaths from happening in the future. The group said it would hold a press conference in Seoul on Friday.

Those at Friday’s press conference will include director Bong Joon-ho, who worked with Lee in the Cannes and Oscar award-winning “Parasite,” singer-songwriter Yoon Jong-shin, director Lee Won-tae, actor Choi Deok-moon and the head of the Producers Guild of Korea, Choi Jeong-hwa.

“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,” the association said in a statement sent to reporters Tuesday.

On Dec. 27, Lee was found dead inside a car parked near Waryong Park in northern Jongno-gu, Seoul, just days after the third, 19-hour round of police questioning over suspicions of illegal drug use. He had claimed his innocence and had requested a lie detector test.

The actor had been under police investigation since October over suspicions of using illicit drugs at the home of a hostess working at a high-end bar in Gangnam, southern Seoul.

Police closed the investigation following Lee's death.

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If you’re thinking about self-harm or suicide, contact the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s helpline at 109, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please request a translator for English-language services.