SEOUL, South Korea – Kim Ki-duk, an internationally acclaimed South Korean film director who made films about people on the fringes of society, often including shocking scenes of violence against women, whose career was tenacious.He died on December 11th in Latvia and was 59 Year old.
The cause was Covid-19 and related heart complications, said his production company Kim Ki-duk Film. According to the company, he had undergone treatment for the disease for two weeks at a hospital in Latvia, where he had recently moved and was reportedly looking for locations to watch his next film.
Mr. Kim is still the only South Korean director to have won top prizes at the three major international film festivals: in Cannes, Venice and Berlin. He spent much of his time overseas after allegations of sexually abusing actresses continued his career in 2017.
Few groups in the film industry made formal statements about Mr. Kim’s death or his films. Film critics, who shared their condolences and appreciation on social media, faced violent reactions from people who said it was tantamount to violence against his victims.
“I stopped teaching Kim Ki-duk’s films in my classes in 2018 when the show about his sexual assault was on Korean TV,” wrote Darcy Paquet, an American film critic who specializes in Korean cinema, on Twitter Someone practices such terrible violence against people in real life that it is just wrong to celebrate it. I don’t care if he’s a genius (and I don’t think he was). “
But Kim’s films also drew fans who said his depictions of poverty and violence helped spark important debates about life in South Korea. “I try to find a good scent by digging in a heap of rubbish,” he once said of his approach to filmmaking.
His films often revolved around the lower abdomen of society. One dealt with a cold-hearted man who turned a woman he once loved into a prostitute. He also dealt with issues such as suicide, rape, incest, plastic surgery, and mixed race children.
“Crocodile” (1996), his first film, tells the story of a homeless man who lives on the Han River in Seoul and makes a living stealing money from victims who kill themselves or by recovering corpses in the river and Grief rewards challenge families. The man saves a woman from suicide and then rapes her.
“Pieta” (2012) is perhaps Mr. Kim’s most famous film. It is a deeply disturbing story that accompanies mother and son in search of revenge and redemption, and contains graphic scenes of torture and violence. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2012. The previous year, Mr. Kim had received an award at the Cannes Festival for “Arirang”, a documentary about an almost fatal accident that occurred while he was filming.
While his films have often received widespread recognition abroad, most of them have been commercial failures in South Korea.
“I made this film so that we could think about how we live in this miserable world where you are praised for your success in life, even if you do so through breaking the law and corruption,” he said after his film “One on One “, about the brutal murder of a high school girl, flopped in 2014.” I did it in the hope that some would understand. If nobody does, there is nothing I can do about it. “
Many moviegoers, especially women, have been troubled by what they believed to be perverse, misogynistic and sadistic scenes of violence against women in Mr. Kim’s films. Criticism rose significantly in 2017 when an actress in Mr. Kim’s film “Moebius” accused him of forcing her to film a sex scene against her will.
He was later fined for slapping her in the face, but other charges were dismissed for lack of evidence or because the statute of limitations had expired.
Other actresses made allegations of sexual abuse. Women’s rights groups in South Korea rallied behind the victims and accused Mr. Kim of mistaking “directing for abuse”.
He eventually became known as one of the many prominent South Korean men – including theater directors, prosecutors, mayors, poets, and Christian pastors – who faced serious allegations of sexual misconduct under the country’s #MeToo movement. In 2018, local broadcaster MBC aired “Master’s Naked Face,” which investigated allegations against Mr. Kim.
Mr. Kim denied being a sexual predator and sued his accusers for defamation. The cases were still pending in court when he died.
Mr. Kim was born on December 20, 1960 in Bongwha, a rural county in southeast South Korea. His early formal education ended in elementary school. His father is said to have been a disabled Korean War veteran who abused him.
As a teenager, Mr. Kim worked in factories and sweatshirts. He joined the South Korean Marine Corps and later enrolled in a Christian theological school before moving to Paris at the age of 30 to study painting.
When he returned to South Korea in 1995, he was determined to become a film director and began producing one low budget film after another to gain international acclaim that few South Korean directors could match.
Mr. Kim is survived by his wife and daughter.