Byun Hee Bong, Veteran South Korean actor known for his roles in films like ‘The Host’ and ‘Okja’, has died at the age of 81.
Hee-bong’s family confirmed that the actor died Monday after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer in a statement to local news outlet Yonhap News Agency.
Who was Byun Hee Bong?
Byun Hee Bong was born on on June 8, 1942, in Jangseong County, South Jeolla Province, and attended Salesian High School in Gwangju.
He took up law at Chosun University before dropping out to pursue acting. Byun entered the MBC actor’s auditions in 1965, and made his acting debut in 1970.
A year later in 1971, he became a regular on the landmark police procedural Chief Inspector. He began using the stage name Byun Hee-bong in 1977.
Throughout the 1970s, he became known on TV as a character actor who played eccentric men who didn’t quite fit in with mainstream Korean society.
He transitioned to the big screen in the 1980s, and earlier in his film career, starred in the classic Lee Doo-yong film Eunuch (1986) and A Surrogate Father (1993).
In 2000, Byun appeared in a memorable supporting role in Bong Joon-ho’s directorial debut Barking Dogs Never Bite, playing a bizarre apartment maintenance man with a love for dog meat.
It rejuvenated his career, and Bong would later cast him in the short film Sink & Rise (2004), and his seminal works crime drama Memories of Murder (2003) and monster movie The Host (2006).
The Host became the top-grossing Korean film of all time, and Byun won much acclaim for his performance as the strong-willed patriarch of a “loser” family, including Best Supporting Actor awards at the Asia Pacific Film Festival and Blue Dragon Film Awards.
Among Byun Hee Bong’s other notable roles were in martial arts fantasy Volcano High (2001), rural dramedy My Teacher, Mr. Kim (2003), horror comedy To Catch a Virgin Ghost (2004), body swap thriller The Devil’s Game (2008), and espionage film The Spies (2012).
Byun Hee Bong was also known for being active in television, with his portrayals of endearing, humorous fathers/grandfathers, or stern, cunning professionals.
Byun Hee Bong death
Byun Hee Bong died on 18 September 2023, at the age of 81.
Byun Hee Bong cause of death
Byun died on Monday after complications related to a return of the pancreatic cancer that had previously occurred and been treated, according to the semi-official Yonhap News agency. The precise circumstances of his demise were not disclosed.