61.1 F
Los Angeles
Thursday, June 13, 2024

Lee Sun-kyun, ‘Parasite’ actor, 48, dies

Must read

- Advertisement -

Actor Lee Sun-kyun's photo is hung at his funeral at the Seoul National University Hospital in Jongno District, central Seoul, on Wednesday. [NEWS1]
Actor Lee Sun-kyun’s photo is hung at his funeral at the Seoul National University Hospital in Jongno District, central Seoul, on Wednesday. [NEWS1]

Lee Sun-kyun, a renowned actor famously known for his role in “Parasite,” died on Wednesday at the age of 48.

Lee was at the peak of his career, having climbed to international stardom after a long period of obscurity in his younger days. This year saw two of Lee’s films being invited to the Cannes International Film Festival, marking the pinnacle of his success as an actor.

Related Article

Lee, born in 1975, made his screen debut in 2001 through the MBC sitcom “Lovers,” after attending the Korea National University of Arts. He played only supporting roles with few lines in smaller dramas before making his breakthrough in 2007 with the medical drama “White Tower” and again in the hit rom-com series “Coffee Prince.” Through these two works, Lee established himself as an actor who could deliver serious roles and carry the plot on his back.

In the same year, Lee received the Best Actor award at the end-of-year television awards show held by MBC, his first award since his debut.

Since then, many of the dramas in which Lee appeared as a lead character, including “Pasta” (2010) and “Golden Time” (2012), recorded high viewership ratings and received accolades, further establishing Lee’s spot as a leading actor. Lee earned nicknames, became memes and enjoyed much popularity, especially for his role as an anger-prone chef in “Pasta.”

For his roles in films, Lee continued to hit homeruns with “Petty Romance” (2010), “Officer of the Year” (2011), “Helpless” (2012), “All About My Wife” (2012) and “A Hard Day” (2014) — all of which were box office successes. He also appeared in director Hong Sang-soo’s arthouse films “Oki’s Movie” (2010) and “Our Sunhi” (2013), getting his name out at foreign film festivals.

Lee’s career hit a high point when he appeared as the father of a rich family in director Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning film “Parasite” (2019). Traveling the world on the press tour for the film, Lee made his face and name known to international fans and climbed the stage for the Academy Awards and the Cannes International Film Festival.

Around the same time, Lee also left a deeper mark on Korean audiences’ hearts by playing the lead character in the drama “My Mister” (2018), in which he portrayed a fatigued yet exemplary adult who helps out those around him. Scenes from the drama are still oftentimes referenced and much loved.

Lee’s success continued into this year, with two of his films — “Project Silence” and “Sleep” — being invited to Cannes. He also had dramas and other films lined up to begin production or filming in the coming year.

In October, news broke that Lee was being investigated by the Incheon Police Agency for using illegal drugs. He was summoned and questioned three times by the police, with the last session being held on Christmas Eve and lasting 19 hours. Lee had tested negative for drugs both in a reagent test and a lab test. Lee further sued an employee of an entertainment establishment in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, for blackmailing him regarding the alleged drug use.

Lee died by suicide on Wednesday after leaving his house late Tuesday, and his body was found inside his car while parked at a public park in Jongno District, central Seoul.

If you or someone you know is feeling emotionally distressed or struggling with thoughts of suicide, LifeLine Korea can be contacted at 1588-9191 or the Crisis Counseling Center at 1577-0199. The Seoul Global Center offers English-language counseling, contact 02-2075-4180 (+1) to arrange a session. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org. 

BY LIM JEONG-WON [lim.jeongwon@joongang.co.kr]