Kim Ki-duk

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Kim Ki-duk
Kim Ki-duk at the Venice International Film Festival in 2012
Born(1960-12-20)20 December 1960
Ponghwa, South Korea
Died11 December 2020(2020-12-11) (aged 59)
Riga, Latvia
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
Years active1993–2020
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Gideok
McCune–ReischauerKim Kidŏk

Kim Ki-duk (Korean김기덕, IPA: [kim ɡidʌk̚]; 20 December 1960 – 11 December 2020) was a South Korean film director and screenwriter, noted for his idiosyncratic art-house cinematic works. His films have received many distinctions in the festival circuit, rendering him one of the most important contemporary Asian film directors.

His major festival awards include the Golden Lion at 69th Venice International Film Festival for Pietà, a Silver Lion for Best Director at 61st Venice International Film Festival for 3-Iron, a Silver bear for Best Director at 54th Berlin International Film Festival for Samaritan Girl, and the Un Certain Regard prize at 2011 Cannes Film Festival for Arirang. His most widely known feature is Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003), included in film critic Roger Ebert's Great Movies. Two of his films served as official submissions for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film as South Korean entries. He gave scripts to several of his former assistant directors including Juhn Jai-hong (Beautiful and Poongsan) and Jang Hoon (Rough Cut).

Early life and education[edit]

Kim was born on 20 December 1960 in Ponghwa, North Kyŏngsang. In 1990, he went to Paris to study fine arts, but instead he spent two years working there on the streets as a portrait painter.[1][2] He served for five years in the South Korean Marine Corps, becoming a non-commissioned officer.[3]


After returning to South Korea, Kim began his career as a screenwriter and won first prize in a screenplay contest held by the Korean Film Council in 1995.[4] In the following year, Kim made his debut as a director with a low budget movie titled Crocodile (1996). The film received sensational reviews from movie critics in South Korea. Ki-duk said that his international breakthrough occurred with The Isle at the Toronto International Film Festival.[5] His 2000 film Real Fiction was entered into the 23rd Moscow International Film Festival.[6]

In 2003, Ki-duk released Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... And Spring. The film was praised by numerous critics, including critic Peter Bradshaw, who considered the film to be his masterpiece and one of the great works of modern Korean cinema. "A potent and enigmatic parable which manages to be both serene and gripping at the same time [...] It is that rarest of things - a genuinely spiritual film."[7] The film work is included in critic Roger Ebert's Great Movies.[8]

In 2004, he received Best Director awards at two different film festivals, for two different films. At the Berlin International Film Festival, he was awarded for Samaritan Girl (2004),[9] and at the Venice Film Festival he won for 3-Iron (also 2004).[10] In 2011, his documentary film Arirang received an award for best film in the Un Certain Regard category from the Cannes Film Festival.[11] In 2012, his film Pietà received the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.[12] In 2015, it was announced in Beijing at the Asian Brilliant Stars, a section of the upcoming Berlin International Film Festival that Kim would direct his largest budget to date film Who Is God?, produced by Hollywood producers Stephen Castor and Jim Rygiel (three-time Academy Award winner) under the banner of their production company Its Just Us Productions, along with Chinese production company Film Carnival (Hangzhou). The film was financed by CITIC Guoan, Huafeng Investment Consultation and Its Just Us Productions, (China Daily News).

Personal life[edit]

Assault allegations[edit]

In August 2017 an actress referred to as "Actress "A" by prosecutors filed a complaint against Kim Ki-duk through Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office. In the complaint actress accused Kim of slapping her face and forcing her to do an unscripted sex scene on the set of his film Moebius. In December 2017 Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office fined Kim Ki-duk for $4,450 (KRW 5 million) for physical assault but didn't charge him otherwise citing lack of physical evidence.[13]

On March 6, 2018 the South Korean TV channel MBC's investigative report show PD Notebook aired an episode titled "Movie director Kim Ki-duk, Master's Naked Face" with more accusations from Actress A and two others (Actress B and C as they mentioned in the show). Actresses accused Kim and his frequent collaborator, actor Cho Jae-hyun of verbal and physical sexual harassment and rape.[14][15] In response Kim filed false accusation and defamation suits against the accusers and PD Notebook.[16]

After that on August 7, 2018 MBC aired a second episode of the PD Notebook show "Master's Naked Face. Aftermath" with more accusations from other actresses and staff members against Kim and Cho. In that episode journalists interviewed a Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency's Special Investigation Unit on Sexual Violence official about the cases. The official explained that the police approached the survivors and established the facts behind accusations but could not indict actor Cho and director Kim because of expired statute of limitation.[17]

In January 2019 Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office decided to drop the criminal lawsuits filed by Kim Ki-duk against actresses and PD Notebook because "there was neither proof that actress' initial accusation was false, nor was there evidence that the news show had been programmed with the purpose of defamation".[18]

In March 2019 Kim Ki-duk filed another lawsuit in civil court against Actress A and PD Notebook seeking $885,740 (KRW 1 billion) in damages. The lawsuit was ruled by court in defendants' favor on October 28, 2020. The court also ordered Kim to pay legal fees for the defendants.[19]

Animal cruelty allegations[edit]

The British Board of Film Classification delayed the release of Kim Ki-duk's The Isle (2000) in the United Kingdom because of instances of animal cruelty in the film. Concerning scenes in which a frog is skinned after being beaten to death and fish are mutilated, the director stated, "We cooked all the fish we used in the film and ate them, expressing our appreciation. I've done a lot of cruelty on animals in my films. And I will have a guilty conscience for the rest of my life."[20]

To a U.S. interviewer who suggested that scenes such as these are "very disturbing and [seem] to place an obstacle to the films [sic] reception, or... distribution, to other countries", Kim said, "Yes, I did worry about that fact. But the way I see it, the food that we eat today is no different. In America you eat beef, pork, and kill all these animals. And the people who eat these animals are not concerned with their slaughter. Animals are part of this cycle of consumption. It looks more cruel onscreen, but I don't see the difference. And yes, there's a cultural difference, and maybe Americans will have a problem with it - but if they can just be more sensitive to what is acceptable in different countries I'd hope they wouldn't have too many issues with what's shown on-screen."[21]


On 11 December 2020, Kim died from complications caused by COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Latvia at the age of 59, nine days before his 60th birthday.[22][23][24][25][26]


Year English title Director Producer Writer Editor Notes
1996 Crocodile Yes Yes
1997 Wild Animals Yes Yes
1998 Birdcage Inn Yes Yes
2000 The Isle Yes Yes
Real Fiction Yes Yes
2001 Address Unknown Yes Yes
Bad Guy Yes Yes
2002 The Coast Guard Yes Yes
2003 Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring Yes Yes Yes "He also acts a major role (as the Adult Monk)"[27]
2004 Samaritan Girl Yes Yes Yes Yes
3-Iron Yes Yes Yes Yes
2005 The Bow Yes Yes Yes Yes
2006 Time Yes Yes Yes Yes
2007 Breath Yes Yes
2008 Dream Yes Yes Yes Yes
Beautiful Yes Yes
Rough Cut Yes Yes
2010 Secret Reunion Yes Uncredited
2011 Arirang Yes Yes Yes Yes Dramatic documentary about himself
Amen Yes Yes Yes Yes Appears as "Masked Man"
Poongsan Yes Yes
2012 Pietà Yes Yes Yes Yes
2013 Moebius Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rough Play Yes Yes
Red Family Yes Yes Yes
2014 One on One Yes Yes Yes Yes
Godsend Yes Yes
2015 Stop Yes Yes Yes Yes
Made in China Yes Yes
2016 The Net Yes Yes
2017 Excavator Yes Yes
2018 Human, Space, Time and Human Yes Yes Yes
2019 Dissolve Yes Yes Yes
2022 Call of God Yes Yes Released after his death[28]

International awards[edit]

Lee Jung-jin, Kim Ki-duk and Jo Min-su in the 2012 Venice Film Festival
Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref
2004 54th Berlin International Film Festival Silver Bear (Best Director) Samaritan Girl Won [9]
61st Venice Film Festival Silver Lion (Best Director) 3-Iron Won [10]
2011 Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard Prize Arirang Won [11]
2012 Küstendorf Film and Music Festival "Award for Future Movies" Pietà Won [29]
69th Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Won [12]
2014 71st Venice Film Festival The Venice Days Best Film Award One on One Won [30]



  1. ^ "A brief guide to the outsider cinema of Kim Ki-duk". London Korean Film Festival. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  2. ^ Rayns, Tony (November 2004). "Sexual Terrorism: Strange Case of Kim Ki-duk". Film Comment (40): 50.
  3. ^ "새영화 <해안선>의 감독 김기덕과 배우 장동건". Archived from the original on 20 May 2022. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  4. ^ "Profile of Kim Ki-deok" (in Korean). Cine21, The Hankyoreh. Archived from the original on 27 January 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
  5. ^ "Interview with Kim Ki-Duk & Jung Suh". Movie Habit. 31 January 2001. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  6. ^ "23rd Moscow International Film Festival (2001)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 28 March 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  7. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (11 December 2020). "Kim Ki-duk: punk-Buddhist shock, violence – and hypnotic beauty too". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring movie review (2003) | Roger Ebert". Roger Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  9. ^ a b "PRIZES & HONOURS 2004". Archived from the original on 15 October 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  10. ^ a b "Official Awards of the 61st Venice Film Festival". Archived from the original on 15 September 2004. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  11. ^ a b Leffler, Rebecca (21 May 2011). "Un Certain Regard Announces Top Prizes (Cannes 2011)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  12. ^ a b "South Korean film 'Pieta' wins Venice top prize". Yahoo! News. AP. 8 September 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
  13. ^ Frater, Patrick (7 December 2017). "Director Kim Ki-duk to Be Fined in Actress Assault Case". Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  14. ^ "Movie director Kim Ki-duk, Master's Naked Face". Youtube. MBC PD Notebook. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  15. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (6 March 2018). "South Korean Filmmaker Kim Ki-duk Accused of Rape". Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  16. ^ Eun-byel, Im (13 June 2018). "Kim Ki-duk fires back at accusers". The Korea Herald.
  17. ^ "조재현·김기덕 '성폭력' 의혹에도 경찰 수사가 어려운 이유 출처". SBS News. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  18. ^ Kil, Sonia (5 January 2019). "Court Dismisses Kim Ki-duk Case Against Actress, TV Show". Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  19. ^ "Director Kim Ki-duk loses lawsuit against actress, broadcaster for airing sexual abuse allegations". Yonhap news agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  20. ^ Rose, Steve (2 August 2004). "'I've done a lot of cruelty to animals'". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  21. ^ McKeague, Andy (11 May 2005). "An Interview with Kim Ki-Duk and Suh Jung on The Isle". Monsters and Critics. Archived from the original on 28 November 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  22. ^ "현지 언론 "김기덕 감독, 라트비아서 코로나19로 사망"" [Local media "Director Ki-deok Kim dies of Corona 19 in Latvia"]. (in Korean). 11 December 2020. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  23. ^ "South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk dies from COVID-19 complications". Reuters. 11 December 2020. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
  24. ^ Herald, The Korea (11 December 2020). "Movie director Kim Ki-duk dies of coronavirus".
  25. ^ "Controversial South Korean director Kim Ki-duk dies of Covid aged 59". The Guardian. 11 December 2020. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
  26. ^ Sang-Hun, Choe (17 December 2020). "Kim Ki-duk, Award-Winning South Korean Filmmaker, Dies at 59". The New York Times.
  27. ^ Wilmington, Michael (7 May 2004). "Measuring life through its seasons".
  28. ^ "'Call Of God': Venice Review". ScreenDaily. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  29. ^ "СВЕЧАНО ОТВАРАЊЕ КУСТЕНДОРФА 2012 | Kustendorf – International Film and Music Festival". Kustendorf Film and Festival 2012.
  30. ^ "Collateral awards". Archived from the original on 6 September 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2018.



  • Seveon, Julien (2003). "An Interview with Korean Director Kim Ki-duk". Asian Cult Cinema. 38 (1st Quarter): 49–61.
  • MARTONOVA, A. (2004) Contemporary Korean cinema – production, tradition and… Kim Ki-Duk. – In: The Plum Blossom. Papers from Korean Studies Conference, Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", Centre for Eastern Languages and Cultures, Sofia: Ex-M, p. 129 – 151
  • MARTONOVA, (2012) A. To feel HAN (Arirang by Kim Ki-duk) // Kino, No.3, Sofia:p. 49-47, ISSN 0861-4393 [Да чувстваш ХАН ("Ариран" на Ким Ки-док). — Original title in Bulgarian]
  • MARTONOVA, A. (2007) The hieroglyph of cinema. Aesthetics and meaning in East Asia movies. Sofia: Panorama Publishing House, 242 pages, ISBN 978 954 9655 31 5 (in Bulgarian)

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