(CTN News) – A private memorial service was conducted for the late South Korean actor, Lee Sun-kyun, at Seoul National University Hospital on Friday (Dec 29). Subsequently, his remains were transferred to a crematorium.
Known internationally for his acclaimed role in the Oscar-winning movie Parasite, Lee was discovered deceased in a car in Seoul earlier this week. Reports indicate that he left a note resembling a will.
The ceremony saw the presence of his wife and fellow actor, Jeon Hye-jin, along with their two sons. Colleagues such as Gong Hyo-jin, Ryu Seung-ryong, and Lee Sung-min also attended, expressing their condolences.
Director Bong Joon-ho, along with Parasite co-stars Park So-dam and Park Myung-hoon, visited the funeral home on Thursday. Acclaimed filmmaker Park Chan-wook and actors Jung Woo-sung and Lee Jung-jae also paid their respects.
Grieving fans affixed handwritten notes to the hospital’s entrance, conveying messages of gratitude and sorrow. One note expressed appreciation for Lee Sun-kyun’s impactful contributions, stating, “The works you have created with your efforts and sincerity have saved countless people.”
Due to the actor’s passing, various entertainment industry events in South Korea were canceled, allowing individuals to offer their condolences to the late actor.
Growing Criticism Over Police and Media Conduct in Lee Sun-kyun’s Drug Investigation
As family and friends gather to mourn the untimely death of Lee, public disapproval is mounting regarding the conduct of the police and media during the investigation into his suspected drug use.
In October, South Korean authorities initiated an inquiry into Lee’s alleged drug use, severely impacting his reputation.
The celebrity faced consequences such as being dropped from television, film, and commercial projects, with estimated damages reported to be as high as 10 billion won (US$7.8 million) according to media sources.
Accusations have arisen, suggesting that the police leaked confidential investigation details to the media, leading to unfavorable coverage and the proliferation of unverified content online.
Lee’s death has intensified public criticism, especially considering the intense questioning he underwent just days before his passing.
Vladimir Tikhonov, a professor of Korea studies at the University of Oslo, remarked, “There was no need to name the suspect in the investigation,” emphasizing the societal consequences in South Korea where being named in a drug investigation is a form of punishment through social ostracism.
Yu Hyun-jae, a communications professor at Sogang University, labeled Lee’s case as a “social murder,” attributing shared responsibility to the media, police, and the public.
In response, Incheon Metropolitan Police chief Kim Hui-jung defended the entire investigation process, asserting its compliance with legal procedures and denying any leakage of investigation details to the media.
South Korea maintains stringent laws against illegal drugs, with President Yoon Suk-yeol declaring a “war on drugs” since assuming office last year.
Drug Scandals Plague Seoul’s Glamorous Gangnam District
Seoul’s upscale Gangnam district, renowned for its luxurious apartments, high-end bars, clubs, and a concentration of plastic surgery clinics, finds itself entangled in a string of high-profile drug controversies.
The late actor, Lee, was under suspicion of using illicit drugs at the residence of a hostess employed at a prestigious bar in this affluent district.
Despite denying knowledge of drug consumption, Lee claimed to have been deceived into taking substances by the hostess. In response, he filed a complaint against her for blackmail and extortion, as reported by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
Lee had reportedly tested negative for drugs twice, first during police investigations and again in a laboratory examination last month, according to Yonhap.
On Friday, the police announced the transfer of a plastic surgeon, operating in Gangnam, to the prosecution for the alleged illegal supply of drugs to the bar hostess.
Among the substances Lee was alleged to have taken was ketamine, a drug previously implicated in a 2018 date-rape scandal at Gangnam’s Burning Sun nightclub, then managed by the disgraced and convicted K-pop star Seungri.
This year, Gangnam made headlines again when a man received a life sentence for orchestrating a kidnapping and murder involving ketamine, which was illicitly obtained from a plastic surgery clinic in the district.
The incidents underscore the ongoing challenges related to substance abuse and the illicit drug trade within the glamorous confines of Gangnam.