Filmmaker Kim Ki-duk holds his Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award at a press conference at Megabox in Dongdaemun, Seoul, in this September 2012 file photo. (Yonhap)
The South Korean movie industry did not have much to say about director Kim Ki-duk’s death on Friday in Latvia from COVID-19 complications.
None of the local movie associations released an official statement about the matter, and only a few of Kim’s acquaintances from the local film industry sent short social media messages mourning his loss.
“You left lonely. We had makgeolli in Insadong and it became the last time we met. Goodbye, Ki-duk,” Won Dong-yeon, CEO of Realies Pictures, said on Facebook. Realies Pictures is known for the megahit “Along With the God” series.
“As an individual in the movie industry, I just wanted to show sympathy for his death. There is nothing more to it than this intention,” Won told The Korea Herald on Sunday.
“It is a great loss that cannot be replaced and sadness to the Korean film industry,” Busan International Film Festival director Jeon Yang-joon posted on Facebook on Friday.
The careful responses are largely the result of the award-winning director’s association with the #MeToo movement as an alleged sex offender. Responses from abroad, on the other hand, have been the target of criticism.
“When the sudden news of Kim Ki-duk’s death hit the wire today I initially resisted the urge to speak ill of the dead, but I’m saddened to see so many gushing laments (largely from the west) about the passing of a great artist with little mention of his horrific behavior on set,” Pierce Conran, producer of 2Mr Films, a Korean film production firm, said on Twitter.
In 2017, Kim was accused of sexually and physically abusing an actress while filming in 2013. The main assault charges were dropped the following year due to a lack of physical evidence.
Kim then sued his accusers -- actresses and MBC, a local broadcaster that reported on additional sexual misconduct allegations against him -- but the Seoul Western District Court dismissed his claims.
He started his directing career in 1996 with “Crocodile.” His career reached its peak with “Pieta” (2012), which won the Golden Lion for best film at Venice.
Kim was the first Korean film director to win the top prize at one of the three major international film festivals -- Venice, Cannes and Berlin.
By Song Seung-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)