The Korea Herald


‘Parasite’ actor Lee Sun-kyun submits drug test samples

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Oct. 29, 2023 - 13:02

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Lee Sun-kyun addresses members of the media at the Incheon Nonhyeon Police Station in Incheon on Saturday. (Yonhap) Lee Sun-kyun addresses members of the media at the Incheon Nonhyeon Police Station in Incheon on Saturday. (Yonhap)

South Korean actor Lee Sun-hyun on Saturday appeared before police in connection with allegations of drug use, and submitted hair and urine samples for drug testing.

The 48-year-old tested negative in a rapid drug test that was also taken Saturday, while submitting his phone for evidence. The National Forensic Service is slated to conduct the test, result of which is expected about a month later.

Lee, known for his appearance in the Academy-winning 2019 picture “Parasite,” did not make specific comments related to his allegations, simply vowing to follow the investigative procedures.

It was initially reported that Lee refused to answer questions during police questioning, but his legal representative on Sunday denied this. The lawyer said that his client’s Saturday visit to the police was merely to take the rapid drug test and submit his phone and the samples, and that Lee would fully comply with the investigation.

Police said they expected to summon Lee again for questioning.

Lee was among the eight individuals taken in by police on Oct. 19, to be questioned for alleged drug use since January. It was alleged that Lee and a 20-something hostess of a high-end bar in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul used marijuana and other illegal drugs at the bar, and also at the hostess’ home.

Police caught wind of Lee’s suspected drug use while investigating a tip-off about illegal drugs circulating in the nightclubs in the affluent Gangnam area.

The actor claimed that the hostess in question had blackmailed him for unspecified reasons, for an amount of 350 million won ($258,000).

South Korean law bans use of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, and marijuana, and Lee is suspected of using both psychotropic substances and marijuana -- the former group of drugs includes methamphetamine, ketamine and propofol.

Lee’s negative result in the rapid testing does not necessarily indicate other testing will bring negative results. Rapid tests are effective in detecting drug use within the past few days.

The scandal forced Lee to drop out of the TV drama “No Way Home,” which is currently in production. Two movies starring Lee, which have both wrapped up production, postponed their release dates until next year.

In a separate case, K-pop star G-Dragon of Big Bang was booked for suspected drug use last week. He was previously suspected of smoking marijuana in 2011, but the police did not file charges at the time, saying the amount detected in his system was less than what was required to secure a conviction for drug use.

G-Dragon denied the allegation on Friday. In 2011, he claimed that he smoked marijuana by mistake, saying that a fan gave it to him and he mistakenly thought it was a cigarette.