South Korean actor, Lee Sun-kyun had begged police not to announce his last appearance for questioning over an alleged blackmail plot just four days before his apparent suicide, officials confirmed Thursday December 28.
Sun-kyun, best known for his role as Park Dong-ik in Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 Academy Award-winning film Parasite, was found dead inside his car on December 27 at Waryong Park in Seoul. He was 48.
His tragic death came as police were interrogating him over allegations of illegal drug use, accused of using marijuana and other substances at the home of a hostess from a local bar.
The actor claimed she tricked him into taking the drugs and said he did not know what he was taking, and that she then tried to blackmail him.
Sun-kyun’s lawyer asked police to close the latest questioning round, on Saturday, to the press, but police rejected the request, according to police officials and legal sources.
His lawyer said on Tuesday, a day before Sun-kyun’s body was found, that he hoped any future interrogation would be conducted behind closed doors, saying his client felt ‘burdened’ by appearing in public settings to discuss the allegations.
The head of the district police force that investigated South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun has defended the tough questioning of him before he was found dead.
Incheon Metropolitan Police chief Kim Hui-jung told a news briefing the entire process was justified and done with Lee’s consent.
He expressed ‘deep regret’ over his death and offered his condolences to his family.
Kim said the questioning over Lee’s three highly-public appearances, including a final one that went on all night, was necessary to hear his side and was done in the presence of his lawyer.
‘The investigation of the deceased was conducted based on specific reports, testimony and evidence and under legally prescribed procedures,’ he said.
Sun-kyun appeared before police in media between October and December, most recently on Christmas Eve.
Sun-kyun there declined to answer questions from reporters about the charges against him but said he was fully cooperating with the investigation.
He was later found dead in a car at a park in Seoul after being reported missing.
Lee was last seen in public early on Sunday morning after 19 hours of questioning – reportedly as police tried to hear him out in full.
Yoon Hee-keun, the commissioner general of the National Police Agency (NPA), denied that unreasonable investigations had caused the actor’s death.
He added that he would look into investigation practices, YNA reported.
Former South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who was a human rights lawyer before entering politics, was among those who criticised police practice and sensational media reporting of the case.
‘The practice that does huge damage to someone’s honour and character, such as excessively putting them at a media photoline, and pushes them to take the extreme choice must now end,’ Moon said on Facebook.