by Lily Alice, January 12, 2024

On January 12, at the Seoul Press Center in Jung-gu, the entertainment industry figures including filmmakers Bong Joon Ho, Lee Won Tae, Jang Hang Jun, actors Kim Eui Sung, Choi Duk Moon, and singer Yoon Jong Shin held a press conference. 

During the conference, the Cultural and Artistic Professionals Conference (CAPC), a new association comprised of 29 organizations and guilds of the entertainment industry, released a statement that contained demands from cultural artists asking for further investigation on actor Lee Sun Kyun's case and proper regulations be put in place to prevent such cases from happening in the future.

The statement called for a comprehensive investigation into the propriety and legality of Lee's drug investigation, action from the media to delete sensational articles on Lee, and the implementation of clearer legal standards if similar cases arise. 

Actor Choi Deok Moon was emcee. Speakers included Yoon Jong Shin, Lee Wontae, Kim Eui Sung, Producers Guild of Korea representative Choi Jung Hwa, Koh Young Jae of the Independent Film Association, director Jang Hang Joon, Kwak Shin Ae (representing production firm Barunson and Women in Film), Yoon Jong Shin, director Lee Won Tae, Lee Ju Yeon, of the Korean Film Marketing Association and Choi Jeong Hwa, head of the Producers Guild of Korea (PGK).

Here is the text of the statement from the Cultural and Artistic Professionals Conference:

I hope that such a tragedy will not be repeated in the investigation process for public figures in the cultural and artistic community.  

Demands from cultural and artistic figures facing the death of the late actor Lee Sun Kyun:

On December 27, an actor tragically took his own life.

From the initial report on October 19 in a daily newspaper stating, "An investigation is underway based on information related to actor L's drug use," quoted from an Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency official, to his official indictment on October 23, over the span of two months, he was exposed to the media without any protection. The entire process, from simple reagent testing, and collection of reagents for precise analysis by the National Forensic Service to audio analysis, and attendance at three police summonses, were all broadcast live through the media. 

Recordings, including audio files that are difficult to assess for their relevance and evidential value, were disclosed to the public through the media. In the end, after the third police summons that lasted 19 hours, he made a tough choice to end his own life after leaving a request to verify the truth of his statements using a lie detector.

Therefore, in expressing our stance on the brutal character assassination he suffered over the past two months, we believe it is our minimum duty to do the following:

1. Request the investigation authorities:

We urge a thorough investigation into whether there were any lapses in the police's investigation security from the moment internal information about the deceased's investigation was first leaked until his death over the two-month period. 

[We request an investigation into] whether there were any responses illegally made by the public relations officer to the media while the investigation was in progress. And whether any law enforcement personnel, other than the public relations officer, gave responses illegally when individually contacted by the media or asked questions about the investigation by journalists. We request that the investigation be conducted without any doubt and that the results be made public. 

Particular attention should be given to scrutinizing the circumstances and motives behind the exclusive coverage by KBS on November 24, which included numerous details from the precise analysis results by the National Forensic Service, and a thorough examination is necessary to ascertain the circumstances and purpose of disclosing such information. And whether the content reported on December 26, where the deceased consistently denied the charges during the 19 hours of overnight investigation during the third police summons, is accurate. 

Although the cooperation of the media in the investigation must be carried out within legal boundaries, we request a clear clarification on whether the actions, including the disclosure of the information of attendance by the deceased in all three summonses and that no measures were taken to prevent the deceased from being exposed on the day, are genuinely within the legal framework.

The investigative authorities cannot claim to be free from all responsibility with a single statement stating that they conducted the investigation following the legal procedures. Only a thorough investigation into the truth of the investigation process can correct the faulty investigation practices and prevent chances of resulting in second and third victims.

2. Question the press and media:

Can it be said that the reporting on the investigation stages of the deceased served a public interest for the people's right to know? Was the sensational coverage of the deceased's private life justified just because he was a figure in the popular culture and arts? Was there any request from the police to forcibly place the deceased on the photo line due to his status as a figure in popular culture? Particularly, can we be sure that KBS, which included the deceased's audio of private conversations that were far unrelated to the allegations, reported solely for the public's right to know, risking its reputation as a public broadcaster? We ask all media, including KBS, to promptly delete any content that does not align with the purpose of journalism.

Taking advantage of the fact that pop culture artists rely on the public's popularity, yellow journalism, including some YouTubers, maliciously leaked unverified information or rushed to make an issue without sufficient coverage or verification procedures. How long should we remain silent about the ills of so-called "cyber wreckers"? Is there truly no solution to this issue? 

3. Request the government and the National Assembly:

Even if the investigative authorities' procedures are deemed legal, the government and the National Assembly should not remain silent about this incident. They should check for any issues in the current laws regarding the disclosure of criminal cases and the protection of human rights in investigations, and begin work on enacting and making necessary legislative revisions.

Clear legislative improvements are needed to prevent a shift of principles and exceptions between the rights of the suspect and the people's right to know and to ensure that the investigation authorities do not interpret and apply the law arbitrarily.

We will make every effort until satisfactory results, regarding these demands and questions, are obtained.

May the late actor Lee Sun Kyun rest in peace.

They also stated, "In light of this incident, we plan to collaborate with various organizations that share the same intention to establish the so-called 'Lee Sun Kyun Act' and actively work together to make diverse efforts. We hope our determination becomes widely known to the world, and that no such tragic incidents occur."

Watch the video taken by Sports Seoul here

Sources (1)(2)