- Incheon Metropolitan Police chief Kim Hui-jung has defended the investigation of South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun over alleged illegal drug use.
- Lee, who starred in the Oscar-winning film Parasite, died on Wednesday.
- He attended his third police questioning session, which lasted 19 hours, days before his death.
The head of the Incheon Metropolitan Police, which investigated South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun over allegations of illegal drug use, on Thursday defended the tough questioning of the actor before he was found dead.
Police chief Kim Hui-jung told a news briefing that the process was justified and done with Lee’s consent.
He expressed “deep regret” over the actor’s death and offered condolences to his family.
Lee, 48, who played a wealthy patriarch in the Oscar-winning film Parasite, died on Wednesday.
His death brought an outpouring of sympathy from the film industry and the public alike, as well as questions over the apparently harsh and public nature of the probe that fuelled media coverage delving into his private life.
Kim said questioning Lee over three tough sessions, including a final one that lasted 19 hours, was necessary to establish his version of events 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.
Lee denied knowingly taking any illegal drugs and said he was tricked into doing so by a bar hostess who was trying to blackmail him, local news media reported before his death.
He declined to answer questions from reporters about the charges against him, but said he was fully cooperating with the investigation.
He was found dead in a car at a park in the capital Seoul after being reported missing.
Criticism of police practice
Former South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who was a human rights lawyer before entering politics, was among those who criticised police practices 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 photo line, and pushes them to take the extreme choice must now end,” Moon said on Facebook.
Reporters surround actor Lee Sun-kyun as he arrives for questioning at a police station in Incheon.
Film industry colleagues visited the memorial set up at Lee’s wake, including Parasite director Bong Joon-ho and the Netflix hit series Squid Game actor Lee Jung-jae.
Incheon police had earlier questioned K-pop star G-Dragon over suspicion of illegal drug use but dropped the case without charging him.
The probe is part of a crackdown by the government of conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol, who has called for a “war on drugs”.
There have been a string of high-profile arrests, including business conglomerate heirs and celebrities, under the country’s tough drug laws which punish those found guilty of abusing drugs and of drug dealing by up to 14 years in prison.