The Freeland File
Aerospace & Defense
Global Market Data
Lucy P. Marcus
The Great Debate
Macro & Markets
Lipper Awards 2012
Personal Finance Video
Our day's top images, in-depth photo essays and offbeat slices of life. See the best of Reuters photography. See more
China: Then and now
The China of yesterday and the rising superpower of today. Slideshow
The long war
Scenes from the war in Afghanistan. Slideshow
Obama on attack in foreign policy debate, but Romney steady
Italian court ruling sends chill through science community
22 Oct 2012
Apple set to unwrap mini-iPad to take on Amazon, Google
"Horses and bayonets" becomes latest debate catchphrase
Obama, Romney battle over foreign policy
22 Oct 2012
Obama gets second chance in debate rematch with Romney
Obama talks Libya and Biden’s swimsuit on ”Daily Show”
As other polls show tight race, Gallup stands apart
Venice winner "Pieta" director a soft-spoken "monster"
'Paranormal Activity 4' haunts top of movie charts
Sun, Oct 21 2012
North Korea threatens South over propaganda balloons
Fri, Oct 19 2012
London film festival opens, Rolling Stones to star
Wed, Oct 10 2012
Bond films turn 50 with Adele song and documentary
Fri, Oct 5 2012
Monsters party tops box office with "Hotel Transylvania"
Sun, Sep 30 2012
Analysis & Opinion
Greg Smith says Goldmanâ€™s response confirms his criticisms: Q&A
Student of the Year: Bromance, brawn and not too much brain
By Jane Chung
YANGPYEONG, South Korea |
Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:03am EDT
YANGPYEONG, South Korea (Reuters) - The near-death of an actress in an accident while filming nearly ended director Kim Ki-duk's career four years ago, but after making "Pieta," which took best picture at this year's Venice film festival, he is now South Korea's most feted auteur.
The incident, in which an actress playing a character who hanged herself fainted with the rope around her neck and was cut down by Kim himself, shook Kim so badly it changed his views on mortality.
Hit with a subsequent wave of staff departures, he retreated from the world to live in a rough wooden shack he built himself about an hour outside of Seoul.
"For the past two to three years, I believed there was no value in my life any more and did not make any movies," said the soft-spoken 52-year old, his hair tied back and wearing shabby chestnut-colored Korean traditional clothes.
"I hated everything. Then I thought life was way too long," Kim said of his self-imposed exile.
But the working-class Kim, who has been tagged by some feminist critics as "all evil, no good," a misogynist or even a psychopath, picked himself up to make "Arirang" in 2011 and then the ultra-violent "Pieta."
"Pieta" depicts the relationship between a heartless loan shark and a middle-aged woman who says she is his mother. Although critics say it is less brutal than many of Kim's other films it still features mutilation, sexual violence and cannibalism as the loan shark feeds the woman his own flesh and rapes her.
The movie, which Kim said he made as a comment on capitalism in Korea, scooped the Golden Lion award at Venice, where one critic termed it "intense."
"I felt that people still overlook the essence and that they are overly judgmental about a certain scene or a person," he said when asked about the frequent negative comments about his movies or his personality.
The movie is shot in the Cheonggye district of central Seoul, once a maze of factories and sweat shops that has now been largely bulldozed. The newly shiny urban area in the film is a place where people are so poor they are prepared to barter their body parts for cash.
"Extreme capitalism is a global phenomenon... Pieta asks its first question about these issues and secondly, it raises the problem of how money dissolves family and human relations," Kim said of his 18th film, the first South Korean film to win a major international award.
MIDDLE SCHOOL EDUCATION, FACTORY WORK
Kim was born in 1960 and his education went only as far as middle school. He then worked in the factories that helped power South Korea into an industrial nation before giving it all up to go to Paris to draw.
Back in Korea, the self-taught director debuted with his low-budget movie "Crocodile" in 1996. He has remained an outsider and a minority taste ever since, describing himself as a "monster who grew on his inferiority complex".
"(It) is an element that makes me train myself harder and grow bigger. The word 'monster' sounds as if it's something enormous, unidentifiable and predatory, but monster means monster. I don't think it's that bad," Kim said.
Korea's critics appear to be softening. They note that his films appear to have become more accessible and that something "Kiduk-esque" has faded from his movies.
"While he has sought aesthetic aspects before, now there are signs that he's trying to shift to moral aspects," said Lee Taek-Gwang, a cultural critic and a professor of English Literature at Kyunghee University.
Kim appears willing to accept the risk he may become more popular, but says it is not something he's actively seeking.
"Well, I think it's something I should reflect on if many think I've become popular or audience-friendly," Kim said when asked whether his work had become more approachable.
"Even though I'm not saying they are wrong, I feel I still have cruel scenes and something gruesome (in my films)."
(Reporting By Jane Chung, editing by Elaine Lies)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.