Oscar-winning " Parasite " director Bong Joon-ho and other artists in South Korea have called for a thorough investigation into the death of popular actor Lee Sun-kyun, who played the head of a wealthy family in the class satire movie.
Lee, 48, was found dead in his car on Dec. 27 in what is widely seen as a suicide following an intense weekslong police investigation into his alleged drug use.
In a nationally televised news conference on Friday, Bong and other artists, writers, performers and producers questioned why police repeatedly summoned Lee in the presence of TV cameras and whether they had inappropriately leaked information about the investigation to media. They also questioned whether media outlets had overly sensationalized reports about Lee's private life that were unrelated to the drug investigation.
"We urge relevant officials to fully investigate whether there were any problems with the security of (the information) in the police investigation," they said in a statement.
They said Lee had suffered "severe character assassination" before his death, and called for revisions of laws to protect human rights in criminal investigations.
Police had been investigating allegations that Lee used illegal drugs at the residence of a bar hostess. Lee insisted he was tricked into taking the drugs and that he did not know what they were, according to South Korean media.
The investigation prompted extensive tabloid coverage of Lee and unconfirmed online rumors about his private life. Lee filed a suit against two people including the hostess, alleging they blackmailed him.
"Parasite" won Oscars for best picture and three other categories in 2020. It was the first non-English-language film to win best picture in the history of the Academy Awards and was the first South Korean movie to win an Oscar.
Lee, who had been a popular actor in South Korea for a long time, was nominated for best actor at the International Emmy Awards for his performance in the sci-fi thriller "Dr. Brain" last year.
South Korea has strict anti-drug laws and has long had the highest suicide rate among developed countries. It has experienced a string of celebrity suicides involving K-pop stars, prominent politicians and business executives. Many of the celebrity suicides have been blamed on malicious and abusive online comments and severe cyberbullying.
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