On December 28, KST, the Korean media outlet Dispatch, published a report accusing the Incheon Metropolitan Police of failing to implement proper law enforcement procedures in their handling of the late actor Lee Sun Kyun’s case.
On December 27, Lee was found by the police unconscious in his car in Jongno, Seoul, in the middle of a highly publicized drug scandal. Later that day, his agency confirmed that the actor had passed away. Following his demise, the Incheon police faced intense criticism and scrutiny. They eventually had to issue a response for the public, claiming there were no legal issues in their investigation process.
However, Dispatch claims that the police’s handling of the case has been erroneous since the beginning, providing a timeline in support.
October 18, 2023
The Drug Crime Investigation Division of the Incheon Metropolitan Police planned to investigate drug use cases involving famous celebrities and those working in Gangnam’s top adult entertainment facilities (bars with hostesses). They posted a progress report of a case on October 18, where eight people were pointed out to be the suspects. Lee Sun Kyun, Kim, Lee, Hwang, Han, Jeong, Jeon, and Yu.
The police were originally investigating Kim, the hostess manager of an adult entertainment facility when they came across the name Lee Sun Kyun, a popular celebrity known by most of the country. Based on Hostess Kim’s information, the police wrote up a report involving Lee, which said:
Lee Sun Kyun administered illegal drugs, including marijuana, on several occasions at the home of ‘Kim’ in Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul.
Seven people including ‘Kim’ administered the drug philopon (Japanese methamphetamine) at a Gangnam establishment on June 20,2023, at around 5pm.
— Incheon Police’s initial report, Dispatch
Dispatch claimed that the police wrote the report without proper internal investigation, resulting in glaring misrepresentations. For example, Han, who was named as one of the seven people who did philopon, was actually incarcerated in July 2023.
October 19, 2023
The initial reports around this case were published the very next day, on October 19, after the police report was leaked to the media. A Korean news outlet ran an exclusive story stating that a famous star, “L,” was under investigation for illegal drug consumption.
The police arrested Hostess Kim on October 18, who already had six drug-related convictions. She was also suspected of extorting ₩300 million KRW (about $232,000 USD) from Lee Sun Kyun through threats.
With six priors, Hostess Kim was surely jail-bound and, hence, had to sell someone out to gain leniency from the police. So, she gave away Lee Sun Kyun’s name as her “contribution” to the case. He was made into the sacrificial lamb to serve both Hostess Kim’s purpose and to help the Incheon Police show their “performance” to the higher-ups. They believed Hostess Kim’s word of mouth without checking the credibility of her statement.
Dispatch pointed out that the police also suspected G-Dragon of drug abuse based on Hostess Kim’s statement alone. The idol vehemently denied the accusations and was eventually cleared.
November 24, 2023
On November 24, Lee Sun Gyun’s second hair follicle test came back negative for drug use traces. While the police were facing criticism for putting Lee and G-Dragon through unnecessary drug tests, KBS News published an exclusive phone call transcript between Lee Sun Kyun and Hostess Kim. It ended up diverting the public’s attention from the negative drug test results.
December 26, 2023
On December 26, KST, JTBC reported about Lee Sun Kyun’s case, citing a statement from the police. It stated that Lee had used a straw to inhale drugs through his nose, but he had refuted the claim, saying he thought those were sleeping pills.
Dispatch was able to confirm Lee Sun Kyun’s statement from the police’s interrogation report, where he had explained:
I asked Kim, ‘Why does it need to be taken through the nose? Is it something weird?’ And she told me, ‘It works faster if you inhale it through your nose. Oppa, if you’re curious, you can try it too.’ Since Kim said it was a sleeping pill prescribed by a doctor-friend of hers, I didn’t think much of it.
— Lee Sun Kyun’s statement, Dispatch
The police questioned Lee Sun Kyun about this solely based on Hostess Kim’s statement. On December 26, he was reportedly interrogated for 19 hours straight, during which the actor had asked for a lie detector test to prove he was telling the truth. However, the information was once again leaked to the media almost around the same time Lee asked for the polygraph test.
Lee then passed away the next day, December 27. The Dispatch report concluded that Hostess Kim needed to “build merit” with the police and hence used the actor as a scapegoat. The police, well aware of her intentions, still used her statement as the sole pretext of the investigation. The outlet accused the Incheon Police of colluding with the press to direct the country’s attention to an ongoing high-profile drug case. When they failed to obtain any objective evidence due to repeated negative drug tests, they leaked details about the actor’s personal life to the media as a method of damage control. The Dispatch report asked, “Can the police claim innocence in his death?”