Praise, criticism as South Koreans react to death of director Kim Ki-duk from Covid-19

South Korean director Kim Ki-duk died nine days shy of his 60th birthday in Latvia on Dec 11. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL (AFP) - There were mixed reactions on Saturday (Dec 11) in South Korea to the death of acclaimed director Kim Ki-duk, whose cinematic legacy was tarnished by allegations of sexual assault.

Mr Kim, who won global fame with his bold portrayal of extreme violence and human brutality, died nine days shy of his 60th birthday in Latvia on Friday.

He faced a number of sexual assault and abuse allegations from actresses who worked in his films as well as other staffers in recent years, all of which he denied.

"'Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring' directed by Kim is a masterpiece. I wish him peace in heaven," wrote one user on Naver, South Korea's biggest web portal.

"I have watched many of his films. May he rest in peace," said another user.

But many on social media criticised the controversial director, pointing to the abuse allegations against him.

"A big loss and grief for Korean cinema," read the headline of the report on Mr Kim's death in South Korean daily The Financial News.

Some responded to the piece saying such praise was not deserved.

"Kim does not and should not represent the Korean cinema," read one comment.

"Directors who respect actors on the set and entertain the audience in theatres are those who represent the industry, not Kim."

Another user said: "I hope the victims of Kim's abuses overcome their struggles and live a happy life."

Coverage of his death in other South Korean media reflected the conflicting views on the director.

"Kim Ki-duk: Golden Lion winner, alleged abuser and died of the coronavirus... a life filled with ups and downs," read a headline by News 1, a local news agency, referring to the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.

In 2017, a South Korean actress accused Mr Kim of physically abusing her the previous year on the set of "Moebius".

Soon, another actress accused him of rape, and a spate of other allegations from staffers and performers followed.

Mr Kim denied the allegations.

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