The controversial South Korean director, known for films such as ‘Pieta’ and ‘Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter … and Spring,’ whose career had been derailed by sexual assault allegations, died at a hospital in Latvia.
Controversial South Korean director Kim Ki-duk died in a hospital in Latvia where he was being treated for COVID-19. He was 59.
Vitaly Mansky, director of Latvia’s Artdocfest film festival, confirmed the news, as did Kim’s family in the Korean media. It’s understood Kim was developing a film project set in the Baltic region.
Kim was known as the bad boy of Asian art-house cinema and made his name with a series of visually stunning but extremely violent films, including The Isle (2000) and Bad Guy (2001). The Isle, which features gruesome scenes involving fish-hooks, was sanctioned by authorities in Britain for animal cruelty.
Kim’s films divided critics but he was celebrated on the international festival circuit. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter … and Spring (2003), about a boy raised by a Buddhist monk in an isolated floating temple, and, with its gentle poetic (and non-violent) style a sharp contrast with Kim’s previous work, was an international art-house hit. Pieta (2012), a story of redemption featuring a loan shark mobster (and more of Kim’s trademark visceral violence), won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Kim’s directing career was derailed in 2018 when three women came forward accusing him and his Bad Guy star Cho Jae-hyun of rape and sexual assault. Charges against Kim were dropped for lack of evidence, but he was fined 5m Korean won ($4,580). Kim sued for defamation against one of his accusers and filmmakers who had made a documentary about the case, but lost.
He never made another film in Korea. His last project, the Russian-language film Dissolve (2019), was shot in Kazakhstan.
Kim was reportedly in Latvia scouting locations for a new film to be set in the region titled Rain, Snow, Cloud and Fog. Local media said he had arrived in the Baltic country last month and was applying for alien residency status.