[Newsmaker] Director Kim Ki-duk accused of actress assault

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Aug 3, 2017 - 16:06
  • Updated : Aug 3, 2017 - 22:23
To say Kim Ki-duk is not a director for everyone would be an understatement. He uses rape, prostitution and incest in his films to strip all pretense and examine the raw human emotions of impulse, violence and lust.

However, the controversial director may have gone a step too far: An actress has filed a complaint with prosecutors, alleging that the award-winning director physically assaulted her and coerced her to shoot an unscripted sex scene while filming “Moebius,” which was released in 2013.

Kim Ki-duk holds his Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award at a press conference at Megabox in Dongdaemun in Seoul in this September 2012 file photo. (Yonhap)

The 41-year-old actress, who was originally cast to play the role of the mother in the film, claimed that Kim slapped her and attempted to force her to shoot a sex scene that was not in the script. She eventually quit and actress Lee Eun-woo replaced her.

Kim’s representatives denied that the director slapped the actress. It was a gentle tap on the face as part of coaching a scene, they said. They also denied forcing an unscripted sex scene.

Ahn Bhyung-ho, from the Federation of Korea Movie Workers’ Union to whom the actress had reported the case, told local media that Kim’s assault had been verified by people who were present at the scene.

He said that the movie industry and women’s rights activists are working to form a committee to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.

Prosecutors are currently investigating the case.

“Moebius,” which was screened at the 70th Venice International Film Festival, was originally banned in Korea due to its graphic depictions of violence and sex, especially underage and incestuous sex.

After cutting about five minutes of the movie, Kim re-applied for local screening later in 2013 and received an adults-only rating.

Kim is one of the most acclaimed directors in Korea. His “Pieta” won the Golden Lion at the 2012 Venice Film Festival. He was also the first Korean director to win the best film prizes at Venice, Berlin and Cannes festivals.

Kim’s collection of prizes notwithstanding, the 56-year-old has often been at the center of controversy, largely for his choices of subject matter, which have included taboo issues such as incest and physical mutilation.

In the recently released book “Inside Love: Viewing Kim Ki-duk through eyes of Lacan,” culture critic Kim So-yeon noted Kim’s tendency to “glamorize or glorify” prostitution in his films.

She points out that such an approach is merely a metaphor Kim uses to convey his message, adding, “It is of course, one of many approaches that we can take toward his work.” 

By Yoon Min-sik