Veteran Korean actor Byun Hee-bong, best known for his work with Oscar winner Bong Joon-ho on films such as Okja and Memories of Murder, has died. Deadline reported. He was 81.
In a statement, Hee-bong’s family revealed that the actor died on Monday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Born in southern Korea in 1924, Hee-bong began his career on stage before moving on to television. The First Republic (1981), The Joseon Dynasty 500 Years: Seoljungmae (1985), and The Legendary Doctor – Hur Jun (1999) are among his major small screen credits.
Hee-bong later made the transition to the big screen. He was renowned globally for his collaboration with director Bong Joon-ho. Hee-bong appeared in four films directed by the Academy Award winner, including Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000), Memories of Murder (2003), The Host (2006), and Okja (2017).
He received the Eungwan Order of Cultural Merit, the Korean government’s second-highest tier of South Korean cultural decoration, in 2020. The President of South Korea bestows the gong for “outstanding meritorious services in the fields of culture and art in the interest of promoting national culture and development”. My Lawyer, Mr Jo 2: Crime and Punishment, a 2019 K-drama series, was Hee-bong’s final on-screen performance. The series is a continuation of the 2016 television series My Lawyer, Mr Jo.