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South Korea filmmaker Kim Ki-duk dies of COVID-19 complications

Award-winning South Korean film director Kim Ki-duk has died due to complications from COVID-19, his family confirmed Friday. File Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE
Award-winning South Korean film director Kim Ki-duk has died due to complications from COVID-19, his family confirmed Friday. File Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- An award-winning South Korean film director known for his graphically violent art-house movies has died due to complications from COVID-19, according to multiple press reports Friday.

Kim Ki-duk, the unconventional filmmaker who was accused of sexual assault and physical abuse by an actress in 2017, died in Riga, Latvia, South Korean news service News 1 and Latvia's Delfi reported Friday.

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Kim, who won awards including Best Director at the Venice International Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, died at 1:20 p.m. local time Friday at a Latvian hospital, according to Delfi and Russia's Sputnik news agency.

The filmmaker had been living abroad in 2020. On Nov. 20, Kim entered Latvia after a period of residence in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Estonia, on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea.

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Kim was shopping for real estate in the Latvian resort city of Jurmala while applying for permanent residency in the country. After the director did not show up at a house-related appointment, acquaintances began a search, according to reports.

Vitaly Mansky, a Russian documentary filmmaker, said he inquired at hospitals. Mansky said his queries were delayed due to strict privacy rules.

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South Korean sources confirmed Kim's death Friday, according to News 1.

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Kim Ki-duk Film, the director's production company, told the news service Kim's family confirmed he had died.

South Korea's film industry has begun to offer condolences.

Busan International Film Festival's executive director Jeon Yang-jun said on social media Friday that he was saddened by the "shocking news." Kim was to celebrate his 60th birthday on Dec. 20, he said.

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In 2018, amid the global #MeToo movement, a South Korean court ruled against Kim after a local actress accused him of physical and sexual assault. The actress alleged Kim forced her to enact unscripted sex scenes.

Kim's films have included scenes of emotional and physical torture, cruelty to animals, and sexual relationships. Kim has been accused of misogyny in his films.

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