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HomeNewsDirector Bong Joon-ho Demands Inquiry into Lee Sun-kyun's Death

Director Bong Joon-ho Demands Inquiry into Lee Sun-kyun’s Death

@Venice Film Festival 

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho has joined a group of artists calling for a government investigation around the death of actor Lee Sun-kyun, who died in an apparent suicide in December.

The 48-year-old actor was widely known for his film work, including a leading role in Bong’s Parasite, which became the first South Korean film to win an Academy Award.

It is believed that a drug overdose was responsible for Lee’s suicide, which took place after the actor had been subject to intensive police questioning before his death. It’s been reported that Lee was tricked into ingesting the drugs as part of an extortion scheme. Two women are being investigated by police authorities for their alleged role in the blackmail plot.

On Friday in Seoul, Bong was one of a group of prominent artists who participated in a press conference under the aegis of the Association of Solidarity of Cultural Artists (ASCA). The group has been newly formed to call attention to the growing problem of drug-induced suicides in South Korea, especially in the entertainment industry. Other participants in Friday’s press conference included the actors Choi Deok-moon and Kim Eui-sung, and representatives from the Busan international film festival and the Directors Guild of Korea.

As reported in The Guardian, ASCA represents an “unprecedented display of unity and criticism [which] is a rarity in South Korea’s entertainment scene, in which celebrities often find themselves at the mercy of unforgiving public scrutiny. Even minor missteps risk destroying careers with little room for recovery or comeback.”

At the press conference, Bong called for “a thorough investigation by the authorities to ascertain whether there were any lapses in the police investigative process. He demanded an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Lee’s death, which included leaks to the press that resulted in “relentless primetime media exposure without prospective measures.”

In connection with the case, singer-songwriter Yoon Jong-shin complained about lapses of protocol in the investigation process, including breaches of privacy. He alleged that Lee had been exposed to media scrutiny before his interrogation at the police station in Incheon, even though he had requested privacy. Also, in spite of requests from Lee’s family, some media outlets leaked details of what was believed to have been his suicide note.

ASCA pleaded with the press and media to delete inflammatory articles and also urged South Korea’s National Assembly to consider laws protecting the “human rights of artists.”

Check out more of Edward’s articles. 

Edward Moran
Edward Moran
Edward Moran began his journalistic career many decades ago as a theater and cinema reviewer for Show Business and the New York Theater Review. More recently he contributed film reviews to and Movie Sleuth. His writings have appeared in publications as diverse as the Times Literary Supplement, Publishers Weekly, the Paris Review, and the Massachusetts Review. Moran also edited a memoir by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Christine Choy. He served as literary advisor to her film Hyam Plutzik: American Poet, which was the keynote film in the American Perspectives series at the 2007 Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.


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