A group of South Korean artists led by Parasite filmmaker Bong Joon-ho gathered for a press conference in Seoul on Friday to call on authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of prolific actor Lee Sun-kyun.
Lee, who starred in Bong's multi-Academy Award-winning Parasite, died of an apparent suicide last month. He was 48 years old. At the time, he was under investigation for alleged drug use at the home of a hostess who worked at a high-end bar in Seoul's Gangnam district. Yonhap reported that Lee was questioned by authorities several times, including for 19 hours on the weekend before his death. The actor had said that he was tricked into taking drugs.
At the press conference, the newly formed Korean Association of Solidarity of Cultural Artists specifically called on authorities to investigate police conduct during the investigation into Lee and the subsequent media spat, which included the publication of the actor's apparent suicide note belonged to his family's resistance.
“We call for a thorough investigation to determine whether there was any failure in police (information) security in the two months since the first leak of information about the investigation against the late actor until his death,” Bong said at the press conference, Korean News Agency Yonhap reported. “We demand clear truth about whether it was legally correct for the police to release the late actor’s police appearance plans to the press.”
The filmmaker added that the group's efforts were an attempt to prevent a “second or third victim” after Lee's death. Those present at the press conference included actor Kim Eui-sung, representatives from the influential Busan Film Festival and the Directors Guild of Korea. The group said it plans to submit its statement to Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, the National Police Agency and state broadcaster KBS.
Last Friday, after Lee's suicide, the Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency referred two women, including a bar hostess, to the prosecutor's office for further investigation and possible charges of extorting Lee of 350 million won ($266,000), Yonhap reported.
According to the Korea Herald, the Association of Solidarity of Cultural Artists, consisting of 29 cultural and arts groups including the Busan Film Festival, released a statement earlier this week calling on authorities and media to prevent similar deaths in the future.
According to the Korea Herald, the statement said: “In light of the tragic death of actor Lee Sun-kyun, we agreed that something like this should never happen again.” We call for investigations by investigators to find out the truth, call on media companies to publish articles to delete those that do not correspond to their function as media and call on the authorities to revise the law to protect the human rights of artists.”