Filmmakers in conflict with movie-rating organization

By Korea Herald

Korea Media Rating Board hit for ‘practically banning’ target audience from watching acclaimed directors’ work

  • Published : Jun 19, 2013 - 19:44
  • Updated : Jun 19, 2013 - 19:46

Famed Korean director Kim Ki-duk and teacher-turned-filmmaker Shin Su-won are struggling against the state’s film-rating system after being given restricted ratings for their latest works.

Earlier this week, filmmakers asked the Korea Media Rating Board to lift the ban on the screening of director Kim’s upcoming film which deals with incest. They also asked the agency’s director, Park Sunny, to resign from her position.

The filmmakers’ public call came after Kim’s film, titled “Moebius,” received a “restricted screening” rating from the KMRB on June 1, for its subject matter ― especially for scenes that depict incestuous sexual encounters between a mother and her son. With the rating, the film can only be shown in “special theater” venues ― which are practically nonexistent in the country. 
The official poster for director Kim Ki-duk’s “Moebius” (Kim Ki-duk Film)

“This is practically a death sentence for a movie,” said the Directors’ Guild of Korea, an organization representing local movie directors with Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho and Choi Dong-hun among its members.

“So is KMRB asking the local Korean audience to go overseas if they want to see this film?”

Director Kim sent a letter to the press on Tuesday saying he cut the incest scenes in the film and was submitting it again to the agency.

“I cut one minute and 40 seconds of the film to meet KMRB’s requirements,” he wrote in the letter.

“I would like to meet the already-set release date of this film ― even if it requires me to delete the scenes ― because if I don’t, then my crew and cast would very likely lose their share of the movie.”

Kim also mentioned the case of his 2011 Cannes-winning film “Arirang,” which was never released in local theaters but was widely illegally downloaded online.

Meanwhile, filmmaker Shin Su-won recently opposed the KMRB’s decision to ban her latest movie “Pluto” for teenagers. The movie, which was awarded Special Mention at this year’s Berlinale, is a disturbing yet engrossing thriller set in an elite Korean high school that deals with murder and bullying as well as extreme competition for success. 
A scene from director Shin Su-won’s film “Pluto” (SH Film)

The rating agency said they decided to ban the movie for teenagers as its raw depiction of violence could be imitated by teens. According to director Shin, the movie received a rating that allowed anyone who is 14 years of age or older to view it at this year’s Berlinale.

Shin, who used to work as a middle school teacher before turning to filmmaking, expressed in a press release last week her disappointment over the agency’s decision.

“The director of Berlinale’s section which included ‘Pluto’ said they invited this movie so teenagers can think seriously about their future,” she said. “Does the KMRB think that Korean teenagers don’t have the sense of judgment ones in Europe do?”

The agency last year caused controversy by being the first in the world to restrict American pop singer Lady Gaga’s Seoul concert to over-18s, on grounds that one of Gaga’s songs promoted “inappropriate behavior” for minors.

Last month, the Seoul Administrative Court ordered the “restricted rating” for a film titled “Antilogy” to be removed. The KMRB had given the film, which includes scenes mocking former President Lee Myung-bak and current President Park Geun-hye, the rating for its “insulting and disturbing” and “violent“ scenes.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)