Lee Sun-kyun, best known for his role in the Oscar-winning Korean film Parasite, will be removed from the new drama No Way Out, a black comedy surrounding the contract killing of a man who is just released from prison after serving 13 years. Lee was expected to play the role of a detective in the film, which started shooting last week.
On Monday, however, producer Studio X+U released a statement, saying it was reviewing various options to replace Lee after news broke that he was being investigated by the police over suspected drug use.
“Following an unfortunate incident last week with the actor Lee Sun-gyun, he expressed that it would take a considerable amount of time to sort out the current situation and that he will inevitably drop out” from shooting the project, the statement read. “The company reached an agreement with Lee’s agency and respects the actor’s position. Shooting will continue as scheduled, and there will be no further delay.”
Aside from No Way Out, two other films starring Lee are currently waiting for a theatrical release. Project Silence, director Kim Tae-gon’s disaster film about people stranded on a collapsing bridge amid heavy fog, was screened at Cannes in May and is waiting for a release next year. Land of Heaven, a film about a soldier caught up in a dramatic event in modern Korean history, is currently in post-production.
Last week, it was reported that the Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency had launched a probe into eight suspects, including Lee, over allegations of drug use in local bars and their homes. There was also speculation that Lee had taken drugs together with the offspring of the head of an industrial conglomerate named by the police, but, on Monday, the actor’s attorney said through a local newswire that Lee does not know them.
The attorney, however, neither acknowledged nor denied Lee’s drug use, saying “it’s difficult to say” whether Lee had actually taken the drugs, adding that the star “will cooperate with the police investigation in a faithful manner.”
Hodu & U, Lee’s agency, put out a press release last week, apologizing for any concerns caused to the star’s fans. “We sincerely apologize for any distress caused by the reports regarding actor Lee Seon-gyun,” it said. “We are currently verifying facts around the allegations and will continue to work diligently with law enforcement agencies in any investigations that may be conducted.”
The 48-year-old actor starred in films, including All About My Wife (2012) and King Maker (2018). In 2020, he won a Screen Actors Guild Award with the film Parasite.
Korea has seen a spike in drug-related crimes recently, especially in the entertainment industry. Earlier this year, actor Yoo Ah-in was indicted for taking more than seven types of drugs for non-medical purposes including cocaine. The 37-year-old actor starred in 2018 film Burning and the hit Netflix drama series Hellbound. The release of his film The Match and series Goodbye Earth on Netflix have been postponed indefinitely.
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