South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk has died in Latvia aged 59 after contracting Covid-19, according to reports.
The award-winning director had travelled to the Baltic country last month and intended to buy a house near the capital, Riga, according to local media. He reportedly died this morning (December 11) from Covid-19 complications.
Kim’s death was confirmed to local outlet Delfi.lv by ArtDocFest/Riga director Vitaly Mansky and his interpreter, Daria Krutova.
The Estonian Film Institute confirmed to Screen that Kim intended to shoot a new feature in the country titled Rain, Snow, Cloud And Fog. The story was to centre on a man and a woman whose love crosses times and space, with four separate stories woven into one.
Born in South Korea, Kim’s directorial feature debut was 1996’s Crocodile.
His international breakthrough came in 2000 with thriller The Isle, which was selected for Toronto and played in competition at Venice.
Kim would again compete at Venice in 2001 with drama Address Unknown and in 2004 with crime drama 3-Iron, which won four prizes including the Silver Lion for best director.
Also in 2004, Kim’s drama Samaritan Girl won the Silver Bear for best director at the Berlinale, having previously competed at the festival in 2002 with gangster drama Bad Guy.
One of his most highly-regarded features was Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring, in which a boy is raised by a Buddhist monk on an isolated floating temple. The film won four awards at Locarno, where it premiered in 2003, and the audience award at San Sebastian.
Kim would go on to have three films selected for Cannes: The Bow, which played in Un Certain Regard in 2005; Breath, which competed for the Palme d’Or in 2007; and Arirang, a documentary looking back on his own career that won the Un Certain Regard award in 2011.
The following year, in 2012, he won Venice’s coveted Golden Lion with crime drama Pieta and returned to the Lido in 2014 with thriller One On One, which won best film in Venice Days.
In recent years, Kim had become the subject of a #metoo scandal, accused of sexually assaulting an actress while filming in 2017. The case was partially dismissed and Kim received a fine. Evidence of further assaults were aired in an in-depth expose by South Korea’s investigative journalism programme, PD Notebook.
His final features were Human, Space, Time and Human, which premiered at the Berlinale in 2018, and Russian-language drama Dissolve, which shot in Kazakhstan and debuted at the Cannes Marché in 2019.