The most prominent association of Byun Hee Bong was with the director Bong Joon Ho. They worked together on the films Okja, The Host, and Barking Dogs Never Bite.
On Monday, veteran actor Byun Hee Bong passed away. He was 81. He had been previously identified as having pancreatic cancer, yet the exact cause of his death is still unknown. Hee Bong underwent therapy and was declared cancer-free, but the disease later returned, according to Korean media sources.
Career of Byun Hee Bong
With decades of expertise, Byun Hee Bong was a well-known figure in the Korean cinema industry. During the second open recruitment period for MBC in 1966, he started his career as a voice actor. Later, he made his acting debut, and throughout the course of more than 50 years, he appeared in numerous films and TV shows.
Bong Joon Ho and Byun Hee Bong
He was most well-known for his relationship with the filmmaker Bong Joon Ho. After playing a successful supporting part in Bong Joon-ho’s debut feature film, Barking Dogs Never Bite, Byun Hee Bong’s career was revitalised. He portrayed a strange flat maintenance worker who enjoyed eating dog flesh in the movie. As a result of the movie’s success, Bong decided to cast him in both his crime drama Memories of Murder (2003) and short film Sink & Rise (2004). He also appeared in the 2006 monster hit The Host. Later, the two worked together once more on the 2016 film Okja.
Eunuch (1986), A Surrogate Father (1993), Volcano High (2001), the rural dramedy My Teacher Mr. Kim (2003, To Catch a Virgin Ghost (2004), The Devil’s Game (2008), Lump in My Life (2014), and The Spies (2012) are some of Byun Hee Bong’s other notable works.
He is famous for his portrayals as adoring fathers, grandfathers, or even severe older men in TV series. He made guest appearances on shows including Pinocchio and My Girl, My Girlfriend Is a Nine-Tailed Fox.
The discovery of Byun Hee Bong’s cancer
After receiving the K-drama Mr. Sunshine offer, Byun Hee Bong received a cancer diagnosis. He revealed in 2018 on the tvN programme What About My Age that he discovered his health scare following a checkup. “After being cast, I thought that I should take care of my health,” he had stated. There is still a location where I can be useful. I therefore had a health checkup. Without that, everything would have come to an end. Certainly, cancer. I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t gone for the health examination at that time and hadn’t been cast.