Korean film director Kim Ki Duk has been sued for allegedly assaulting an actress on set.
According to reports on August 2, an actress, who remains anonymous (hereafter referred to as “A”), sued director Kim Ki Duk for assault and coercion. The Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office is reportedly handling the investigation themselves with the assistance of a detective unit, rather than having police investigate the situation per standard procedure.
The alleged assault and coercion happened on the set of the 2013 film “Moebius,” of which A was initially the main female actress. A is claiming that while filming for the movie, director Kim Ki Duk slapped her, saying she needed to immerse herself more into her role. Director Kim also allegedly pressured her into doing a sex scene that wasn’t in the movie script. Eventually, A withdrew from the movie, and a different actress filled the role.
After leaving the movie, A consulted a lawyer about what sort of legal action she could take, but in the end gave up for fear of the negative impact it could have on her career. Later, after coming to terms with the fact that she may have to leave the industry, A went to the Federation of Korea Movie Workers’ Union (hereafter FKMWU), told them what had happened to her, and moved forward with legal action.
Secretary general Hong Tae Hwa of FKMWU also spoke out about the issue: “There have been staff accounts of director Kim Ki Duk slapping [A’s] face two or three separate times, and it has been revealed that Kim Ki Duk coerced [A] into filming a scene where she had to grab male genitals. It’s not that this scene wasn’t in the script, but the actress was first told that an artificial model of male genitals would be used, only to be pressured into touching an actual person and filming the scene in a way that wasn’t agreed upon beforehand. She was pressured for a long time, and in the end, the scene was filmed, and the file still remains. The exact charges will be revealed through the prosecution’s investigation.”
Hong Tae Hwa went on to explain that this sort of issue is a widespread one: “Recently, there have been a lot of issues regarding the filming of sexual scenes in the movie industry. Movies can’t be filmed in completely real situations. Especially in films with sexual themes, the specifics must be outlined in the contracts. Because consent is important. [Sexual scenes] are filmed in closed spaces, so it’s difficult to know exactly what goes on. If we want to keep [these sorts of cases] from happening again, there needs to be prior discussion and consent as well as details outlined in the contract about how exactly sensitive scenes will be filmed.”
Kim Ki Duk’s side responded to the allegations, claiming that A filmed a total of two times, after which she suddenly quit and cut off contact. When A didn’t show up to set on the third day, another actress’s part was changed to a double role.
Xportsnews quotes director Kim Ki Duk, who said, “I want to explain what’s been said about the assault; everything else, it’s difficult to understand.”
He said, “Any situation, from a director’s perspective, is one that comes about from pursuing realism in a scene, and in the middle of an audience of staff members, there were no subjective emotions involved.”
On the witness accounts mentioned by FKMWU, director Kim Ki Duk said, “If there are still members of the staff who give detailed accounts, I’ll use it as an opportunity to rethink my position as a film director, as well as take responsibility for my actions. [Regarding the allegations of coercion], I believe it was a misunderstanding of my efforts as a director to depict a scene in the script in the best way possible. I sincerely apologize to the actress who was hurt by what happened.”