The last two films starring the late Lee Sun Kyun, Project Silence (CJ ENM, directed by Kim Tae Gon) and The Land of Happiness (NEW, directed by Choo Chang Min), will not be released this year. As reported by The Asia Business Daily on the 26th, these films, which were part of Lee Sun Kyun’s final works, are not included in this year’s release roster.
Project Silence, a disaster movie with significant investment in special effects, had a production budget of around 18 billion KRW (roughly 13.5 million USD), with total costs, including marketing, reaching approximately 20 billion KRW. With Lee Sun Kyun in the lead role, the film is reportedly impossible to edit or reshoot. It was successfully screened at last year’s Cannes Film Festival’s Midnight Screening non-competition section.
The Land of Happiness, which cost about 9 billion KRW (roughly 6.7 million USD) to produce, includes scenes featuring Lee Sun Kyun that amount to about 15 episodes. Although editing and reshooting were discussed, it was ultimately decided to complete the film with Lee’s scenes and is currently in post-production.
Initially, the penalty fee for Lee Sun Kyun was reported to be around 10 billion KRW, but recent estimates suggest it will be between 3 billion and 5 billion KRW.
The drama No Way Out is an eight-episode series in which the late actor was set to appear. Considering his previous appearance fee of around 200 million KRW (roughly 150,000 USD) per episode in the SBS drama Payback last year, the penalty fee is calculated to be about two to three times the expected fee of 1.6 billion KRW. No Way Out has since replaced Lee Sun Kyun’s role with actor Cho Jin Woong.
Previously, Lee Sun Kyun had been under police investigation from October last year for alleged drug use. He denied the accusations and tested negative in both a preliminary test and a detailed physical examination. Despite his assertions of innocence, the police investigation continued, and Lee was found deceased in his car parked in Waryong Park, Seoul, on December 27th of the same year.