South Korean actor Byun Hee-bong died at age 81 after battling pancreatic cancer.
Byun’s death: Byun was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019, and after a successful recovery after treatment, the disease returned, leading to his death on Monday, according to his family. The circumstances of his death have not been disclosed.
Byun’s roles: Byun, who was born in 1942 in South Jeolla Province, worked in live theater before becoming a voice actor for state TV network MBC in 1966. The veteran actor has appeared in numerous TV series, including “The First Republic” (1981), “The Joseon Dynasty 500 Years: Seoljungmae” (1985) and “The Legendary Doctor – Hur Jun” (1999).
He also landed significant roles in the acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho’s hit films, such as “Barking Dogs Never Bite” (2000), “Memories of Murder” (2003), “The Host” (2006) and “Okja” (2017).
Recognition and awards: Byun earned numerous award nominations in Korea and regionally in Asia. He won best supporting actor at the 27th Blue Dragon Awards for his role in Bong’s “The Host,” and the award for the most popular actor in the TV category at the 21st Baeksang Arts Awards for his role in the period drama series “The Joseon Dynasty 500 Years: Seoljungmae.”
In 2020, he received the Eungwan Order of Cultural Merit, which is the second-highest class of the South Korean cultural decoration from the government, for his contribution to the nation’s pop culture.