December 28, 2023
SEOUL – Prolific Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun was found dead inside a car in Seoul on Wednesday, days after the third round of police questioning on Saturday over suspicions of illegal drug use. He had been claiming innocence and had requested a lie detector test.
According to police on Wednesday, the 48-year-old was found unconscious inside a car parked near Waryong Park in northern Jongno-gu, Seoul, at around 10:30 a.m. He was confirmed dead in an apparent suicide at the scene and was not sent to a hospital for treatment, authorities said.
Police were dispatched to the scene after receiving a report from Lee’s manager. Lee’s wife and actor Jeon Hye-jin reportedly told police that Lee had gone missing with his car and had left a concerning note at home.
Lee’s agency Hodu&U Entertainment released a press release Wednesday afternoon, requesting reporters to restrain from reporting malicious comments or spreading false information.
“The funeral will take place privately with family members and close friends in attendance,” the agency said in a statement.
In October, Lee was first summoned for police questioning on suspicions of use of illegal drugs including marijuana and psychotropic drugs at the home of a host working at a high-end bar in Gangnam, southern Seoul. He was alleged to have taken drugs on multiple occasions from early this year.
Lee was summoned for two more rounds of questioning on Nov. 4 and Dec. 24. Throughout the three rounds of police questioning, Lee claimed his innocence, saying that he had been tricked by the host into taking the drugs.
After 19 hours of intense police questioning through the night on Saturday, Lee said through his attorney that a lie detector test should be used to determine who, between Lee and the host, was telling the truth. The woman, who is in her 20s, reportedly insisted that the actor used drugs at her home multiple times.
In a related case, Lee had filed a complaint against the woman, claiming she had blackmailed and extorted some 350 million won ($270,000) from him.
But Lee had admitted that he and the host met four times and inhaled a powder through the nose with a straw, which he thought was a crushed sleeping pill. The woman claimed to have seen Lee snorting the illegal drug ketamine through a straw.
In November, Lee tested negative in both a reagent test conducted during police investigations and a comprehensive lab-based drug analysis of his hair samples by the National Forensic Service.
Meanwhile, Lee’s attorney had said last week that any further questioning should be conducted privately, as the actor felt “pressured” by having to show up in front of cameras for police summons.