South Korean director Kim Ki-duk dies at 59

The director was 59 years old. ©EPA/HAYOUNG JEON

South Korean director Kim Ki-duk, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2012, died today, aged 59 in Latvia, due to complications related to the covid-19.

According to Russian-based Latvian director Vitaly Mansky, president of an international documentary festival in Riga, Kim Ki-duk died after being diagnosed with covid-19. The director was quoted by the news agency Baltic News Service.

South Korea’s Foreign Minister, quoted by the Associated Press, confirmed that he had been informed of the death of a 59-year-old South Korean citizen who was admitted to a Latvian hospital today due to covid-19, but he declined to reveal the victim’s identity.

According to local media, Kim Ki-duk had arrived in Latvia about a month ago, with the intention of buying a house there and obtaining a residence permit.

In 2012, the filmmaker won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, in Italy, with “Pietá”.

In 2004, Kim Ki-duk won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival with “Samaritana”. In the same year, he received the Silver Lion in Venice with “Ferro 3”.

In 2017, it was learned that the South Korean prosecutor’s office was investigating the director, alleging that the filmmaker assaulted and forced an actress to film sexual scenes, which were not part of the script.

At the time, in a statement released through his production company, the director of “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring” admitted that he could have hit the actress, but had no “precise memory” of the incident, having denied having forced the interpreter filming scenes outside the script, in what she classified as a “misunderstanding”.

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The South Korean Federation of Film Workers’ Unions stressed that the actress, whose name has not been released, abandoned the 2013 film “Moebius” after the alleged assault.

Initially, the screening of the movie “Moebius” was banned in South Korea, where it was considered obscene. The film’s premiere was authorized after some controversial scenes had been removed. The film was presented at the Venice festival in 2013.

Kim Ki-duk’s career in South Korea ended in 2017/18, after three actresses made new accusations against the director.

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