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Film Director Kim Announces ‘His Funeral’

2006/08/09 Source

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

Renowned film director Kim Ki-duk has always been considered a maverick in the local film industry. Maverick in the sense that his films, while winning acclaim abroad, failed here. But even in that context, the director's recent remarks came as a shock.

In a news conference held after lull of more than a year, the press-shy Kim said, "I feel like today is my funeral. This may be the last time that I can show my films in Korea. Local moviegoers may not see my next films in Korea any more".

Kim made the comments during a news conference on Monday followed by a media screening of his new film "Time" at Cine Core theater in Chongno, downtown Seoul. The film opens on Aug. 24.

During the conference, Kim voiced his anger, disappointment and the difficulty that he has felt as an art film director.

All through the conference, he gave reporters only short answers to their questions, until the very end, when he grabbed a microphone and said, "I'm going to finish the conference with my last speech". He sounded nervous, tense and sad.

Kim began saying, "I hope this will not sound rude".

He emphasized that he had failed to communicate with local audiences through his films, which led to their commercial failure.

"I don't have any good memories from my 13 films. After `3-Iron' became a commercial flop in 2004, I decided not to release my films in Korea, and as the 2005 film `The Bow' was pulled off after only the first week, my decision became firm", Kim said.

Kim has become a darling of the international festival circuit, winning awards at international film festivals such as Cannes, Venice and Berlin. When his films opened overseas, each of them received positive reviews and won moderate commercial success.

But he has had bitter experiences in his home country. "'3-Iron' and "The Bow" attracted 94,928 and 1,398 moviegoers, respectively, in Korea, while they each drew audiences of over 200,000 in France, Italy and the United States.

He said he had initially planned not to release "Time" in local theaters. Korea is just one of 30 countries which imported his film. If "Time" is a commercial flop here, he will not sell his next film in Korea.

"From now on, I won't submit any of my new works to international film festivals held in Korea, including Pusan. This could sound like a threat, complaint or petition, and I know my decision will harm my career. But I did not have good responses to my work, and if I keep failing, I may have to find another job", he said.

"But frankly, I hope this film will draw an audience of some 200,000, which could change my mind", he said.

Kim expressed his bitter feelings about the phenomenal success of the recent local blockbuster, The Host.

"As a bleeding director, I think, whether this sounds negative or positive, it's the finest result produced as it meets the needs of local audiences and the film industry", Kim said.

The Host by Bong Joon-ho is setting new records everyday. It is being shown at 620 screens, the largest number of screens ever, almost half of theaters in Korea. It attracted 6 million moviegoers in only 11 days and, if it maintains the pace, is expected to reach the 10 million-viewer-mark.

Starring Sung Hyun-ah and Ha Jung-woo, "Time" revolves around a couple who find their love fading and try extreme measures to tackle their relationship crisis.

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