South Korea's Media Ratings Board has slapped an effective ban on Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Volume 1, causing uproar among the film community and throwing local distributor CJ Entertainment's plans for a November 21 release into doubt.
Cited by the board for its excessive violence and gore, the film was given a "resticted" rating which limits screenings to specially designated adult-only theatres. However, with no legislation in place to make such venues legal, none currently exist and the ruling works in practice as an outright ban.
Import company Taewon Entertainment will now be forced to make voluntary cuts and resubmit the film, unless the ratings board reconsiders its stance.
The board, which is made up of civilians appointed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, is quoted as saying, "The film contains scenes of such brutal and excessive violence that it surpasses the level of the 18+ rating." The 18+ rating prohibits admission to all viewers aged 17 or younger.
Local critic Jeon Chan-il, echoing the feelings of many in the film industry, stated, "Preventing a film like Kill Bill from being screened intact is an embarrassment in front of the world film community."
Kill Bill is the second imported film to receive the 'restricted' rating, after French horror title Haute Tension was banned in August and released shortly thereafter with cuts.
Local films have a longer history of classification troubles, with Cannes invitee Too Young To Die going through a protracted battle with the board in 2002, and North Korean documentary Animal Fornication still banned after two years for its graphic portrayal of animal sex.