Award-winning director Kim Ki-duk dies from COVID-19 in Latvia: reports

December 11, 2020

Kim Ki-duk, an internationally acclaimed filmmaker, died from COVID-19 complications in Latvia, according to media reports on Friday.

The 59-year-old director died early Friday (local time) in a hospital in the Baltic country, the Russian news agency TASS reported, citing the Latvian online portal Delfi. Kim is said to have suffered from COVID-19 related complications.

The report said Kim arrived in the country on Nov. 20, and had been out of contact since Dec. 5. Kim planned to buy a house in the resort city of Jurmala and acquire permanent residency, it said.

This file photo shows filmmaker Kim Ki-duk. (Yonhap)
This undated file photo shows filmmaker Kim Ki-duk. (Yonhap)

This file photo shows filmmaker Kim Ki-duk. (Yonhap)

Jeon Yang-jun, executive director of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), told Yonhap News Agency that he heard the news of Kim’s death from an art critic in Kyrgyzstan.

The arthouse maverick earned international fame in 2004 when he won the Silver Bear award for “Samaritan Girl” at the Berlin International Film Festival. He also received the Golden Lion award for “Pieta” at the Venice Film Festival in 2012.

While his cinematic works captivated global audiences for many years, he has recently kept a low-profile in his native country amid multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

He was accused by an actress of sexual and physical abuse in 2017 when the #MeToo movement began to sweep the nation. In October, Kim lost a lawsuit he filed against the actress and a local broadcaster, which reported more allegations of sexual misconduct against him in 2018.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was working to verify media reports through the Korean Embassy in Latvia.

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