Chinese moviegoers grieve the death of controversial South Korean director Kim Ki-duk

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/12 18:12:05

Kim Ki-duk Photo:VCG

World-renowned South Korean film director Kim Ki-duk, who won the top Golden Lion prize at the 2012 Venice Film Festival but later faced allegations of sexual assault against an actress, died at the age 59 in Latvia on Friday. 

The news about Kim's death made moviegoers in China take to social media to express their grief. More than 15,000 people on China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo joined in on the topic to reminisce about the director, mainly expressing their appreciation of Kim's film achievements. 

"Though there is stigma surrounding his personal life, his works remain so inspiring. When I watched his Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring, I saw his philosophy about sin, redemption, desire and lust, they go around and come back, without an end," one of Kim's film buffs posted on Weibo. 

"He changed my opinion about South Korean films and the art of film making," posted another. 

"In spring 2020, [South] Korean director Bong Joon-ho won the Oscar, [South] Korean film industry had its spring because of that. Now, in winter 2020, Kim Ki-duk left, so now the 'Five tigers of South Korean films' have become the history," another fan posted on Weibo. 

Kim's death was first confirmed by Vitaly Mansky, a Latvia-based Russian documentary filmmaker, to a local outlet Delfi, which noted that Kim arrived in Latvia on November 20. According to Variety, the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs also later "indirectly" confirmed the director's death, saying it had been informed of a death in a Latvian hospital of a 59 year-old Korean man. Kim was admitted to hospital for treatment of COVID-19, later dying of complications related to the disease. 

Kim visited Latvia with an intention to apply for a residence permit and to buy a property in Jurmala, located on the Baltic coast near the country's capital Riga. 

Kim was one of South Korea's top movie directors who have a distinctive taste to express extreme violence, sexual scenes and human brutality in his films. 

The director has many representative works that are unique due to their controversial nature. Apart from his most well-known films such as Ag-o (1996) and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (2003), he has also created works such as The Isle (2000) and Moebius (2013) that brought him "trouble" as the former was banned in the UK before its release due to instances of animal cruelty, and Kim was accused by an anonymous actress of sexual assault on the set of his film Moebius. Later, Kim was involved in more scandals with at least three other women accusing him of sexual assaults in 2018 before he filed false accusations and defamation lawsuits against them. 

Though the director was "stigmatized" by such controversies, his film artwork turns to be uniquely excellent and influential worldwide. He is a globally famed multi-award-winner having received major prizes such as the Silver Lion for Best Director at the 61st Venice International Film Festival, the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, as well as the most prestigious Golden Lion at the 69th Venice International Film Festival for Pietà (2012), with the film involving religious symbols in addition to highly sexual content. 

Along with Kim and the Oscar-winning director, there are other three filmmakers, namely Park Chan-wook, Lee Chang-dong and Hong Sangsoo. They are praised as the five most influential directors who have brought the unique South Korean cinematic aesthetics of being subtle and bold to international film platforms as well as audiences worldwide. 


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