Director labelled 'sex parasite' by some netizens

SEOUL • South Korean director Bong Joon-ho should be basking in glory after his movie, Parasite, won the top Palme D'or prize at the recent Cannes Film Festival.

But in recent days, some netizens back home have called him a sex parasite after reports surfaced of what an actress endured during the shooting of his 2009 movie, Mother.

Last month, veteran actress Kim Hye-ja, 77, who plays the mother of a mentally challenged son in that film, said her breast was touched in one scene.

She added that Bong, 49, had not discussed the scene with her, during a dialogue with the audience after a screening of Mother on May 9.

"It wasn't in the script, but I thought that there must've been a reason for it and stayed still. But Won Bin (who played the son) said Bong told him to touch me."

When the host of the screening asked Bong, who was also present, to clarify, he said: "I don't remember. It's easy to have the fantasy that a director controls everything about a movie, but many things just happen on set."

As the criticism against Bong mounted, his production company said it was all a misunderstanding, reported Korean media.

In a statement released to the media, it revealed that its staff had spoken to Kim over her recollection of events.

"Kim said: 'Mother was a film in which I talked a lot with Bong and he said to me: 'I'm not a mum, so I think you'll probably know the mind of the mum in the film more than me.'"

The statement also quoted Kim as saying: "Now that I think about it, Bong said to me before filming began that (the son) could put his hand on his mum's breast and I said: 'So what if he puts his hand on it? A mentally challenged son can sleep while touching his mum's breast.'"

"I filmed the scene with that kind of mindset. I am sorry to Bong that there was a misunderstanding and I'm scared of what's going on."

The statement added that Bong chose not to refute her account at the dialogue out of respect for the veteran artist.

Kim, in a telephone interview with newspaper Chosun Ilbo on Wednesday, blamed herself for triggering the commotion, saying she had been flippant with her account during the May 9 dialogue.

"To say that director Bong and Won Bin planned to fool me and sexually harassed me? I feel scared and embarrassed even saying this," she said.

"I think that there are people who are trying to take him down after he returned home with glory and enhanced national prestige," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2019, with the headline 'Director labelled 'sex parasite' by some netizens'. Print Edition | Subscribe