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Award-winning filmmaker faces sex offense allegations

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Kim Ki-duk kisses the Golden Lion Award of the 69th Venice International Film Festival at a press conference in the Megabox movie theater in central Seoul on Sept. 11, 2012. / Korea Times file
Kim Ki-duk kisses the Golden Lion Award of the 69th Venice International Film Festival at a press conference in the Megabox movie theater in central Seoul on Sept. 11, 2012. / Korea Times file

By Kang Hyun-kyung

Award-winning filmmaker Kim Ki-duk, 57, has fallen from grace after several actresses made shocking revelations about his sexual misconduct.

According to MBC's investigative program "PD Notebook," Kim is a habitual sex offender who abused his power as a film director to satisfy his sexual desires.

Three undisclosed actresses testified on condition of anonymity about their traumatic experiences while they worked with the director.

One of them claimed she was raped by Kim and actor Cho Jae-hyun who was a male lead in the film they were working on at the time.

She said director Kim tried to rape her even before they shot the film and he and lead actor Cho knocked on the door to her room every other day during the days of shooting the film and raped her.

"I remember he (Kim) bragged about having sex with an actress who appeared in one of his previous films," she said in the TV program. Another actress claimed she was fired while shooting the 2013 film "Moebius" after she rejected Kim's request to have sex with him. "On the first day of the read-through, Kim asked me to have a three-way relationship with another girl. I flatly rejected his request and ran away," the actress said. "Later I got a phone call from him and he said he couldn't work with an actress who didn't trust him. Then I was fired."

The third actress said she had a meeting with Kim after she was almost confirmed to appear in his then forthcoming film. She said the meeting was disgusting. She said director Kim talked about sex for almost two hours. "I was sick of what he was saying, so I left the place and decided to quit acting," she said.

Director Kim denied the allegations. He said he has never abused his power as a director to fulfill his sexual desires. "I once kissed a woman without asking her in advance. I know this was wrong and I deeply regret what I did," he said in a text message sent to the program. Kim said that he has had extramarital affairs with women but their relationships were consensual.

Kim is a self-taught film director.

After graduating elementary school, he spent several years in vocational schools and manufacturing sector jobs before he turned 20. After serving five years in the military, he juggled several jobs as a painter and a Christian missionary until he turned 30.

In the early 1990s, he traveled to France and other parts of Europe for three years and happened to see two life-changing films _ American horror thriller "The Silence of the Lambs" (1990) directed by Jonathan Demme, and the French film "Les Amants du Pont Neuf" (1991) directed by Leos Larax.

Inspired by the two movies, Kim made his directorial debut in 1996 with "Crocodile." He has since directed 28 films.

Kim's films are controversial because of the content and the way he tells the stories.

He's a critics' favorite and his works have drawn critical acclaim, particularly overseas. Kim earned global fame in 2004 when he clinched the best director's awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Venice International Film Festival. His works "Samaritan Girl," a film about the revenge of a father who learned his daughter was having an affair with a married man, and "3-Iron" helped Kim win at the two top-tier film festivals.

He became the first Korean filmmaker to win the Golden Lion Award at the Venice International Film Festival in 2012 for his film "Pieta."

His splendid overseas success, however, was not matched at home. He is an overlooked filmmaker. None of his films have been box-office hits here. The award-winning films "3-Iron" and "Samaritan Girl," for example, drew merely 71,559 and 44,900 moviegoers, respectively.

Kim's reputation among the general viewers is divided. Some call him a masterpiece filmmaker, while some downplay his works as controversial. His 2002 film "A Gangster" shows the public's mixed reactions about his works. The movie is about a cruel, cold-blood human trafficker who sold a girl into prostitution and enjoys the sadistic feeling while watching the girl's sufferings. She gradually falls in love with the man who pushed her to go through all the ordeals and traumatic experiences.

Kang Hyun-kyung


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