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‘Parasite’ actor Lee found dead amid drug accusations

By Hyonhee Shin and Soo-hyang Choi

SEOUL (Reuters) -Lee Sun-kyun, an actor in South Korea’s Oscar-winning film “Parasite”, was found dead on Wednesday by authorities following up a report that he had gone missing, a fire official in the capital said.

Lee, 48, who played the head of a wealthy household in the film, had faced investigation over accusations of illegal drug use amid a government crackdown in which police questioned him three times, with one session running 19 hours over the weekend.

The actor had said he was tricked into taking drugs by a bar hostess trying to blackmail him, the Yonhap news agency reported.

Authorities found Lee in a search triggered by the report that he was missing, the fire official told Reuters on condition of anonymity, as the matter is a sensitive one.

Earlier, citing police, Yonhap said Lee was found in a car at a park in Seoul, after his manager told police the actor had left home, leaving an apparent suicide note.

Officials at Seoul’s Jongno and Seongbuk police stations did not immediately respond to telephone calls from Reuters to seek comment.

Lee’s agency, HODU&U Entertainment, also did not respond to calls.

Infringements of South Korea’s tough drug laws can lead to six months in jail, or up to 14 years for repeat offenders and dealers.

A 2019 dark-comedy thriller directed by Bong Joon-ho, “Parasite” won the Academy Award in February 2020 in the four categories of best picture, best director, best original screenplay and best international feature film.

It had received six Oscar nominations.

In the film, Lee acted as Mr. Park, whose affluent home is infiltrated by members of a lower-class family posing as highly qualified domestic workers in a tangled scheme that leads to a gory end.

Lee, born in 1975, had leading roles in South Korean films such as the 2012 thriller “Helpless” and 2014’s “All About My Wife”.

He played the lead in Apple TV+’s first Korean-language original series, which rolled out in 2021.

A six-episode sci-fi thriller, “Dr. Brain” unspooled the tale of a cold-hearted neurologist, hunting for clues to a mysterious family accident through brain experiments.

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi, Josh Smith, and Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Minwoo Park and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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