Controversial South Korean Director Kim Ki-Duk Dies of COVID-19

Kim Ki-duk

Kim Ki-duk, a renowned filmmaker from South Korea, passed away Friday morning in Latvia due to complications from COVID-19 at 59 years old. 

Man of cinema: The controversial filmmaker, who attained international fame for his arthouse films, died at a hospital in Riga, where he was being treated for the disease, Deadline reports. 

  • Kim reportedly wanted to apply for a residency permit in the Baltic country and intended to buy a beach house in Jūrmala when he tested positive for the coronavirus, according to sources cited by Reuters.
  • News of his death was confirmed by the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Russian documentary filmmaker Vitaly Mansky. 

Work, personal life: Over the years, Kim attracted controversy over his work as a director as well as within his personal life. 

 

  • In 2004, his movie “Samaritan Girl” premiered at the Berlinale and won the Silver Bear award, while “3-Iron” won a Silver Lion at Venice.
  • In 2007,  his 14th feature film “Breath” was nominated for the Palme d’Or award and screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
  • In 2011, Arirang won the Un Certain Regard Award in Cannes.
  • While Kim’s movies have been widely lauded in international film festivals, some of his works were also criticized for their dark themes, including violence against women and animals.
  •  “The Isle,” which he released in 2000, has split critics due to scenes involving attempted suicides with fish hooks and numerous scenes involving cruelty to animals, which the director claimed to be all real in an interview.
  • “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring,” one of the most beloved from his work that earned mostly positive reviews, had some scenes deleted for its international release, reportedly due to animal cruelty.
  • Later in his career, Kim was accused of rape and sexual harassment by multiple women during the height of South Korea’s own #MeToo movement. A sexual assault charge filed against him was partially dismissed by a local court.

Feature Image via Tania Volobueva (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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