Philip Ahn, 72, one of the best known oriental character actors in films and on television, died Tuesday in Los Angeles of complications following surgery for lung cancer.

In recent years, he was known to millions of TV viewers as Master Kan, mentor to David Carradine in the series, "Kung Fu."

Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Ahn was the son of Chang Ho Ahn, a leading Korean patriot who had spent most of his life battling Japanese domination of his country. His father later returned to Korea and died in a Japanese prison camp in 1938.

Mr. Ahn grew up in California and attended the University of Southern California, where he was majoring in foreign commerce when he decided to try acting to augment his income.

He spoke perfect English but credited his ability to speak English with a "coolie" accent for getting him into films.

His first role was "Anything Goes," with Ethel Merman and Charles Ruggles. This was followed by "The General Died at Dawn" with Gary Cooper and Madeleine Carroll.

During his long career, Mr. Ahn appeared in more than 270 character roles. His favorite films included "The Story of Dr. Wassell," "Daughter of Shanghai," "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie." He often appeared as a Japanese military officer in World War II films.

Mr. Ahn had planned, before his final illness, to go to Korea where a ceremony had been scheduled to mark the 40th anniversary of his father's death. Both of his parents are buried there in a park dedicated to his father.

A bachelor, Mr. Ahn is survived by two sisters and two brothers, all of California.