Maverick Koreandirector Kim Ki-duk, known internationally for filmsincluding 3-Iron, Samaritan Girl and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring,has renounced all his previous films as "trash" saying he will leave the Koreanfilm world after a public brouhaha started on a television debate program.

On Aug 18, whileappearing on an MBC TV panel discussing Bong Joon-ho'scurrent blockbuster hit The Host andthe local distribution system, disgruntled Kim spoke disparagingly of the filmand the audience tastes that make it hard to justify the P&A costs ofreleasing low-budget art films such as his.

His most recentproject Time - to be screened in Toronto - very nearly went without a local releaseuntil art-house import specialist Sponge stepped in.

Directly afterhis television appearance, the internet community went ballistic over thedirector's comments, and three days later Kim issued an apology through thepress to the makers of The Host aswell as the public. He stated the incident made him realize he was too much of"an awareness-challenged person" to live in Korea, saying, "although it's late, I thinkit's fortunate that I have realized the sincerity of Korean audiences and can withdrawquietly now from the Korean film world."

Kim has long hada problematic relationship with local critics and audiences who generally foundhis works too masochistic and extreme, only coming partially around to himafter acknowledgement from international film festivals.

DistributorSponge says Time is to be released tomorrow on schedule. Ironically, it isopening in major CJ CGV and Megabox multiplexes aswell as art-house theaters, on a total of 12 screens.

Head of salescompany Cineclick Asia SuhYoung-joo, who has worked with Kim on six of his 13films, commented, "I've never thought of Kim Ki-dukwithin the sole boundary of being a Korean director for the Korean market, andI doubt this will effect his international fan-base. Andit's not as if he can only make films in Korea."