Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Lee Sun-kyun: “Parasite” actor’s death highlights South Korea’s antidrug crackdown and celebrity involvement

Recently, South Korea’s strict antidrug policy came to the public’s attention with the death of actor Lee Sun-kyun. Notably, Yoo Ah-in, best known for his roles in the 2018 film “Burning” and the 2021 Netflix series “Hellbound”, has been facing drug accusations and backlash from retailers, leading to his removal from the cast of “Hellbound”. Korean rapper G-Dragon also faced an investigation but was cleared, though his partnership with BMW Korea was affected.

While some officials support the tough stance on drugs, treatment experts voice concerns about the emphasis on punishment over rehabilitation, stating that it has not been effective in curbing addiction. People have criticized the police for their handling of Lee Sun-kyun’s case, citing a lack of evidence and a violation of privacy. The police, however, maintain they followed proper procedures based on available evidence.

South Korea’s approach to drugs is in line with that of other Asian countries, with minimal tolerance for drug use. Other countries approach drug use as more of a public health matter rather than a criminal one, but South Korea’s geographic isolation has helped keep drug use relatively low. Still, drug-related arrests are on the rise, raising concerns about the impact of intensified enforcement. President Yoon Suk Yeol and his administration have declared a “war on drugs”, with celebrities leading “just say no” campaigns and talk shows dedicating episodes to antidrug programming.

However, the country’s policy on drugs, including harsh punishments and forced education programs, has been criticized for being less about overcoming addiction and more about punishment. Treatment experts argue that it falls short at curbing drug use, addictions, and overdose deaths, and that a more balanced approach including education, cultural change, and infrastructure for addiction treatment is necessary.

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