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Remembering Lee Sun-kyun: A Look Back At His Unforgettable Roles

At the time of his demise, the 48-year-old actor (born on March 2) , was under police scrutiny regarding allegations of illicit drug usage and had endured prolonged questioning sessions.

Divya Pal

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THE untimely passing of actor Lee Sun-kyun in December had added to a series of tragic celebrity losses in South Korea, a country that grapples with one of the highest suicide rates globally, and where public figures often face immense pressure to maintain an ideal image.

Lee, who had gained massive popularity for the portrayal of Park Dong-ik, the patriarch of the affluent Park family in the Academy Award-winning film Parasite, was discovered dead in his car on December 27. According to reports, he had committed suicide. At the time of his demise, the 48-year-old actor, was under police scrutiny regarding allegations of illicit drug usage and had endured prolonged questioning sessions. According to one of Lee’s legal representatives speaking to CNN, the actor harbored feelings of injustice concerning the handling of the drug investigation, particularly the dissemination of details through local media outlets. On his birthday, ScreenBox revisits his popular projects…

Behind The White Tower

Breaking stereotypes and setting new standards, Behind the White Tower emerged as a game-changer in Korean drama by eschewing the central romance trope. Adapted from the Japanese novel Shiroi Kyotō, the series unfolded within a bustling hospital, with its main characters predominantly being doctors navigating both workplace dynamics and patient care, akin to the drama of Grey’s Anatomy.

Featuring a stellar cast including Kim Myung-min, Cha In-pyo, and Byun Hee-bong, alongside a young Sun-kyun as Choi Do-young, the series propelled Sun-kyun into the spotlight. His portrayal of Choi, a principled doctor whose dedication often clashed with the hospital hierarchy, earned him widespread acclaim and multiple award nominations, notably the Golden Acting Award at the 2007 MBC Drama Awards.

Paju

Paju talks about the complexities of womanhood in modern South Korea, viewed through the lens of Joong-skid, portrayed by Sun-kyun. Fleeing to the remote city of Paju after a disaster, Joong-skid’s life intertwines with a local woman, that leads to marriage. Years later, she vanishes, leaving her sister Eun-mo, played by Seo Woo, to suspect Joong-skid’s involvement.

Layered with intricacies, the film gradually unravels the history between Joong-skid and Eun-mo, juxtaposing their youthful selves with their present, mature personas. Seo Woo’s compelling performance complements Sun-kyun’s portrayal of the reserved Joong-skid, enriching the narrative with depth and contrast.

A Hard Day

Debuting to critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, A Hard Day showcases Sun-kyun as Detective Go, a corrupt police officer entangled in a web of deceit and danger.

Directed by Kim Seong-hun, the film navigates through a whirlwind of chaos and dark humor, with Detective Go grappling with ethical dilemmas amidst a frenzy of unexpected events.In the midst of the madness, Sun-kyun’s performance grounds the narrative, seamlessly transitioning between moments of vulnerability and intensity. His compelling screen presence elevates A Hard Day from chaos to captivating storytelling.

Dr. Brain

As the first Korean-language series on Apple TV+, Dr. Brain captivated audiences with its genre-bending narrative. Sun-kyun takes on the role of Koh Se-won, a brain scientist delving into the mysterious death of his family by hacking into the minds of the deceased.

Navigating between grief and scientific pursuit, Sun-kyun masterfully embodies Se-won’s complexities, seamlessly blending emotional depth with intellectual curiosity. His commitment to the character adds layers to the series, captivating viewers with its exploration of trauma and innovation.

Parasite

Parasite catapulted Sun-kyun and his castmates to international acclaim with its incisive social commentary. In this satirical masterpiece, Sun-kyun portrays Park Dong-ik, the patriarch of a wealthy South Korean family ensnared in a battle of wits with the cunning Kim family.

Amidst the film’s accolades, including a historic win for Best Picture at the Oscars, Sun-kyun’s performance shines, infusing depth and nuance into the role of the oblivious elite. His portrayal adds a layer of humanity to a character steeped in privilege and ignorance.

My Mister

Sun-kyun delivered a poignant performance as Park Dong-hoon, a disillusioned structural engineer navigating life’s hardships. His encounter with Ji-an, portrayed by Lee Ji-eun, sparks an unlikely bond, offering solace amidst adversity.

With themes of resilience and redemption, My Mister showcases Sun-kyun’s versatility as an actor, capturing the essence of a man grappling with personal and professional challenges. His portrayal of Park Dong-hoon resonates with authenticity, anchoring the series in emotional depth and sincerity.

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