Award-winning film director Kim Ki Duk of South Korea has died from COVID-19 complications in Latvia. The news was confirmed by Latvian media. The 59-year-old who director who made films like Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring, was in the Baltic country to buy a property.

Latvian reports said he was in the country to get a residency permit before buying a house at Jurmala. He was looking for suitable places in Latvia's seaside resort near Riga. He had landed in Latvia on Nov. 20.

Kim Ki duk
South Korean film director Kim Ki Duk has died of COVID-19 in Latvia. By Ivan Bessedin (Flickr: Kim Ki-duk (김기덕)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Privacy Protection Laws

But his colleagues were worried when he did not make it to the scheduled meetings. They couldn't even get in touch with him. That is when they started looking for him in hospitals. The search was not easy as information is not revealed because of the privacy protection laws in Latvia.

Later it was found that he had passed away due to COVID-19 complications at a hospital at early on Friday. His death has also been confirmed by his interpreter Daria Krutova. According to the latest information, his family has received a call from Latvia and confirmed his death, reported Korea Times.

Kim Ki Duk is known for making idiosyncratic art-house cinematic works. His movies are about the spirit of life, meaning of death and what's in between. He is one of the most prominent film directors of Asia. But his movies never failed to create a controversy. His movies have been labled as violent in nature and sometimes misogynic.

According to him, his films depicted reality. Addressing the animal cruelty issue in the movie The Isle, Kim Ki Duk had said that it looked more cruel onscreen, but he didn't see the difference. He acknowledged that there was cultural difference but said it was better if audience can be more sensitive to what is acceptable in different countries.

Kim Ki Duk's films are also known as intense form of arts, which speak of the journey between life and death. Kim Ki Duk has won Golden Lion at 69th Venice International Film Festival for Pietà, Silver Lion as Best Director at 61st Venice International Film Festival for 3-Iron, Silver bear for Best Director at 54th Berlin International Film Festival for Samaria and Un Certain Regard prize at 2011 Cannes Film Festival for Arirang.

Sexual Assault Case

Kim Ki Duk's last movie was Dissolve starring local actors of Kazakhstan made in 2019. This movie is about a sheltered and chaste woman named Din finding her life intertwined with the experiences of a prostitute who looks like her.

In 2017, Kim Ki Duk was accused of sexually harassing an actress. Since then he had stopped appearing in public in South Korea. He denied the charges and had sued the complainant for criminal defamation. However, local court dropped Kim Ki Duk's defamation case.

The issue was seen as a part of #MeToo campaign where an actress claimed that Kim Ki Duk had forced her to perform sex scenes, which were not not scripted, and beat her up during the shooting of his movie Moebius in 2013. She said that at the end she was replaced with another actress. However, as there was a lack of evidence, prosecution dropped the sex charge but the court fined him for assault.